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

...Mary of the great promises about the Messiah. That He will be the Son of the Most High and the Son of David. But obviously, Mary wasn't born yesterday. She knew for a birth to occur there needs to be sexual intercourse between a male and a female. That's why she questions the angel's proclamation that she would bear a son. She objects that this is impossible because she has not sexually known any man and obviously to have a son you need sex. Literally, the text says “`How shall this be, seeing a husband I do not know?'” This knowing refers to sexual intimacy as in Genesis 4:1, for example. The birth of this child shall be supernatural. It shall come to pass by The Work Of The Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit, God the Spirit, the third Person of the Blessed Trinity will do a work within Mary in order that which is unnatural shall happen to her and in her.

The virgin birth is also important for the Lord Jesus' sinlessness. This is because without a father he would not have Adam as His federal head, but He Himself will be the beginning of a new humanity. All those who are in Adam have already sinned in him (Rom. 5:12-14). Therefore, if Adam was the federal head of the Lord Jesus, the Lord Jesus would have been born in sin. But the Bible nowhere indicates that the Lord Jesus was under the headship of Adam or that He sinned. The Lord Jesus was born under the Mosaic Law (Gal. 4:4-5), but not Adamic headship. Furthermore, the promise of the seed of the woman in Genesis 3:15 is likewise confirmed and established by the Lord Jesus' virgin birth. That idea of "the seed of the woman" occurs only once in the Old Testament. There are many passages which speak of men's seeds or offspring, but this is the only one which promises that the Serpent's-Head-Crusher will be from the seed of the woman, and not the man as is usual in the Old Testament. 

The Lord Jesus’ Earthly Descent

The Confession specifically mentions that the Lord Jesus was a descendent of Abraham, Judah, and David. Why is this necessary? Because of the promises made to those individuals. David was promised the Kingdom and Abraham was promised the kingdom people. See chapter 7 on the Davidic and Abrahamic covenants. The genealogies trace His descent to Abraham and David (Matt. 1:1; Luke 3:23-38). His earthly descent further confirms His true and full humanity. His humanity was obviously from His mother's side, as He had no earthly begetting father. 

Very God and Very Man

The Christian creeds teach that the Lord Jesus was truly man and truly God. The Chalcedonian Creed (451 A.D.) teaches:

We, then, following the holy Fathers, all with one consent, teach men to confess one and the same Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, the same perfect in Godhead and also perfect in manhood; truly God and truly man, of a reasonable [rational] soul and body; consubstantial [coessential] with the Father according to the Godhead, and consubstantial with us according to the Manhood; in all things like unto us, without sin; begotten before all ages of the Father according to the Godhead, and in these latter days, for us and for our salvation, born of the Virgin Mary, the Mother of God, according to the Manhood; one and the same Christ, Son, Lord, Only-begotten, to be acknowledged in two natures, inconfusedly, unchangeably, indivisibly, inseparably; the distinction of natures being by no means taken away by the union, but rather the property of each nature being preserved, and concurring in one Person and one...


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

...need not imply that they had a redeeming work of the Holy Spirit in their lives, or that they were regenerated. By similar analogy with the example of the fishing companions in Luke 5:7, Peter and the disciples could be associated with them and even to some degree influenced by them without having a thoroughgoing change of life caused by that association. The very word metochos allows for a range of influence from fairly weak to fairly strong, for it only means “one who participates with or shares with or accompanies in some activity.” This was apparently what had happened to these people spoken of in Hebrews 6, who had been associated with the church and as such associated with The Work Of The Holy Spirit, and no doubt had been influenced by him in some ways in their lives.[21]

The question we must next answer concerns the manner in which these apostates shared in the Holy Spirit. Does the Holy Spirit only work with the elect? Or does He even work in some of the reprobates? I think that this is an easy answer because we have a clear word from the mouth of our Lord concerning those who worked miracles, yet whom He never knew. In Matthew 7, we read of people who will come before our Lord claiming that they’re His:

Matt. 7:21-23 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ 23 And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’

These are not people who have “fallen away” but at some time in the past they were true and regenerate believers, but rather they were never true believers to begin with. This is seen from the strong language that the Lord uses against them. He does not say “I knew you for some time”, but rather the rejection is too strong; He says “I never knew you!” There was never a time in which Christ the Lord had a special and loving relationship with these “workers of lawlessness.” But He does not refute their claim that they prophesied, performed exorcisms and did mighty works in Jesus’ name, because spiritual gifts are not the criteria for knowing if one is a true believer or not. The criteria is fruit (Matt. 7:15-20). How did these “workers of lawlessness” perform these mighty things if it was not by the Holy Spirit? Therefore, they had some sort of relationship and association with the Holy Spirit and His powers. I believe that the Hebrews 6 refers to the apostates either themselves possessing spiritual gifts like tongues, prophecy, miracles, healing and other things, or being recipients of the effects of these gifts.

When the Lord gave authority to His disciples “over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal every disease and every affliction” (Matt. 10:1) do we read anywhere that Judas was not able to perform these? Even to the last moment, they were not saying “yes, it is Judas”, but rather questioning individually if they are the betrayers by saying, “Is it I?” (Matt. 26:22). There was not a special signal or sign on Judas which said that he was a wolf. Nowhere do we read that he was not able to perform something which the other disciples were able to perform. But we also know that he was “the son of destruction” (John 17:12) and “the one destined for destruction” (NET) concerning whom the Lord sai...


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

Chapter 1: Of the Holy Scriptures

What does the Bible itself teach about the Word of God? Which books are contained in the Bible? Are the Apocryphal books God-inspired and authoritative? Who made the Bible authoritative? What is Sola Scriptura? What does it mean that Scripture is inerrant and infallible? Is Scripture sufficient? What does it mean that the Scripture is inspired? Are creeds and confessions above or subordinate to the Scriptures? In this chapter, we will explore the Bible’s view of the Word of God. The paragraphs in which I deal with parts of the Scripture's doctrine are not necessarily in logical order, therefore, here are the topics in a somewhat more logical order:

  1. Necessity of Scripture (paragraph 1)
  2. Scripture As Self-Revelation (paragraph 1)
  3. Canon of the Old Testament (paragraph 4)
  4. Canon of the New Testament (paragraph 3)
  5. Inspiration of Scripture (paragraph 2)
  6. Inerrancy and Infallibility of Scripture (paragraph 1)
  7. Authority of Scripture (paragraph 4)
  8. Sufficiency of Scripture (paragraph 6)
  9. Sola Scriptura (paragraph 110)
  10. Authentication of Scripture (paragraph 5)
  11. Perspicuity of Scripture  (paragraph 7)
  12. 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 rul...


1689 Baptist Confession Chapter 29: Of Baptism - Commentary

...ootnote"[27]

Yes, we believe that baptism symbolizes regeneration and union with Christ, but it is not an instrument nor cause of regeneration. Even if the “washing of regeneration” is taken to be a reference to the waters of baptism, which I deny, even then, “Baptismal regeneration can only be found here by substituting the sign for the thing signified.”[28] The one baptized pictures their regeneration and union with their Lord by it but does not owe their regeneration to baptism, but to The Work Of The Holy Spirit in them.

1 Peter 3:21

Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, 

To me, it is an utter sign of disrespect to the Word of God when passages are quoted partially or out of context, and the use of this passage by those who believe in baptismal regeneration is a perfect example. I've seen a couple of people online partially quoting “Baptism...now saves you” and act like this was the only thing that Peter said. The obvious thing that they want to communicate by this is that baptism is necessary for salvation, but reading the verse as a whole, this idea is refuted by the passage itself!

Baptism does in fact save, but the question we must ask ourselves is, “how does baptism save?” The Apostle Peter was just writing about the Flood and he says that baptism corresponds to the flood waters. Albert Barnes, the Presbyterian, noted on this passage, saying, “The meaning here is, that baptism corresponded to, or had a resemblance to, the water by which Noah was saved; or that there was a use of water in the one case which corresponded in some respects to the water that was used in the other; to wit, in effecting salvation.”[4] The way that baptism saves is “not as a removal of dirt from the body.” What might this mean? I believe the obvious answer is that Peter is speaking of sin as dirt of the body. Water Baptism does not cleanse or remove sin from the body. John Gill noted that the design of baptism is not “to take away either original or actual sin; this only the blood of Christ can do, and it is not a mere external cleansing of the body”[7]. Sometime in the early church, some thought that baptism cleansed sin or original sin from infants, but this idea is refuted by the Apostle. Albert Barnes noted on this clause:

Not a mere external washing, however solemnly done. No outward ablution or purifying saves us, but that which pertains to the conscience. This important clause is thrown in to guard the statement from the abuse to which it would otherwise be liable, the supposition that baptism has of itself a purifying and saving power. To guard against this, the apostle expressly declares that he means much more than a mere outward application of water.[4]

Water Baptism does signify and typify regeneration and salvation, but it is not the or a cause of salvation, but only Christ the Lord and faith in Him is the cause of salvation. Believers are not saved by baptism, but by what baptism signifies, the death and resurrection of the Savior. Rather than removing sin and cleansing us from unrighteousness, water baptism is “an appeal to God for a good conscience.” What does this mean? The NASB Study Bible notes, “The act of baptism is a commitment on the part of the believer in all good conscience to make sure that what baptism symbolizes will become a reality in his life.”[29] In baptism,...


1689 Second Baptist Confession of Faith Highlighted

Preface to the Second London Baptist Confession, 1677

To The Judicial and Impartial Reader

Courteous Reader: It is now many years since divers of us (with other sober Christians then living, and walking in the way of the Lord, that we profess) did conceive ourselves to be under a necessity of publishing a Confession, of our Faith, for the information and satisfaction of those that did not thoroughly understand what our principles were, or had entertained prejudices against our profession, by reason of the strange representation of them by some men of note who had taken very wrong measures, and accordingly led others into misapprehension of us and them. And this was first put forth about the year 1643, in the name of seven congregations then gathered in London; since which time divers impressions thereof have been dispersed abroad, and our end proposed in good measure answered, inasmuch as many (and some of those men eminent both for piety and learning) were thereby satisfied that we were no way guilty of those heterodoxies and fundamental errors which had too frequently been charged upon us without ground or occasion given on our part. 

And forasmuch as that Confession is not now commonly to be had, and also that many others have since embraced the same truth which is owned therein, it was judged necessary by us to join together in giving a testimony to the world of our firm adhering to those wholesome principles by the publication of this which is now in your hand. And forasmuch as our method and manner of expressing our sentiments in this doth vary from the former (although the substance of this matter is the same), we shall freely impart to you the reason and occasion thereof. One thing that greatly prevailed with us to undertake this work was (not only to give a full account of ourselves to those Christians that differ from us about the subject of baptism, but also) the profit that might from thence arise unto those that have any account of our labors in their instruction and establishment in the great truths of the Gospel, in the clear understanding and steady belief of which our comfortable walking with God, and fruitfulness before him in all our ways, is most nearly concerned; and therefore we did conclude it necessary to express ourselves the more fully and distinctly; and also to fix on such a method as might be most comprehensive of those things we designed to explain our sense and belief of; and finding no defect in this regard in that fixed on by the Assembly, and, after them by those of the congregational way, we did readily conclude it best to retain the same order in our present Confession; and also when we observed that those last mentioned did in their Confessions (for reasons which seemed of weight both to themselves and others) choose not only to express their mind in words concurrent with the former in sense concerning all those articles wherein they were agreed, but also for the most part without any variation of the terms, we did in like manner conclude it best to follow their example in making use of the very same words with them both in these articles (which are very many) wherein our faith and doctrine are the same with theirs; and this we did the more abundantly to manifest our consent with both in all the fundamental articles of the Christian religion, as also with many others whose orthodox Confessions have been published to the world on the behalf of the Protestant in diverse nations and citi...


Hebrews 6:4-6, Apostasy and Calvinism

...need not imply that they had a redeeming work of the Holy Spirit in their lives, or that they were regenerated. By similar analogy with the example of the fishing companions in Luke 5:7, Peter and the disciples could be associated with them and even to some degree influenced by them without having a thoroughgoing change of life caused by that association. The very word metochos allows for a range of influence from fairly weak to fairly strong, for it only means “one who participates with or shares with or accompanies in some activity.” This was apparently what had happened to these people spoken of in Hebrews 6, who had been associated with the church and as such associated with The Work Of The Holy Spirit, and no doubt had been influenced by him in some ways in their lives.[10]

The question we must next answer concerns the manner in which these apostates shared in the Holy Spirit. Does the Holy Spirit only work with the elect? Or does He even work in some of the reprobates? I think that this is an easy answer because we have a clear word from the mouth of our Lord concerning those who worked miracles, yet whom He never knew. In Matthew 7 we read of people who will come before our Lord claiming that they’re His:

Matt 7:21-23 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ 23 And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’

These are not people who have “fallen away” which at some time they were true and regenerate believers, but rather they were never true believers to begin with. This is seen from the strong language that the Lord uses against them. He does not say “I knew you for some time”, but rather the rejection is too strong, He says “I never knew you!” There was never a time in which Christ the Lord had a special and loving relationship with these “workers of lawlessness.” But, He does not refute their claim that they prophesied, performed exorcisms and did mighty works in Jesus’ name, because spiritual gifts are not the criteria for knowing if one is a true believer or not. The criteria is fruit. How did these “workers of lawlessness” perform these mighty things if it was not by the Holy Spirit? Therefore, they had some sort of relationship and association with the Holy Spirit and His powers. I believe that the Hebrews 6 passages refers to the apostates either themselves possessing spiritual gifts like tongues, prophecy, miracles, healing and other things, or they receiving the benefit of these gifts.

When the Lord gave authority to His disciples “over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal every disease and every affliction” (Matt 10:1) do we read anywhere that Judas was not able to perform these? Even to the last moment, they were not saying “yes, it is Judas”, but rather questioning individually if they are the betrayers by saying “Is it I?” (Matt 26:22). There was not a special signal or sign on Judas which said that he was a wolf. Nowhere do we read that he was not able to perform something which the other disciples where able to perform. But we also know that he was “the son of destruction” or the one “the one destined for destruction” (NET) concerning whom the Lord said that “It would be better for ...


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

...e to God. I believe that it is God who works in me to do His pleasure. Anything good that comes from me, comes because God is at work in me and not because of my efforts. The reason that I seek to be obedient is not because of my free will, but because God is very gracious to me and wants my good, which is staying within His will for His glory. See my comments on the book of Hebrews in the chapter on Perseverance about the perfect work of Christ on behalf of His people, which is the basis of our assurance (see here).

The Work Of The Holy Spirit

Our hope and infallible assurance are also founded upon the inward work of the Spirit. These promises, which are the promises of the Gospel, include the promise that we may and can know that we have eternal life and know God (e.g. 1John 2:3; 3:24; 5:13). These promises are believed and held onto by us because of the grace of the Holy Spirit leading us to stand firm upon God's promises. An important part of the Spirit's work in the child of God is witnessing that we are children of God. The Apostle Paul expresses that in the following words:

Rom. 8:13-17 For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. 14 For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. 15 For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” 16 The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him. 

God is truly amazing Who not only sent His Son to die in our place but give us His Spirit and pours out upon us blessings which we cannot comprehend. Why? Not because of anything in us, that's for sure!

1. To be “led by the Spirit” means "by the Spirit” putting “to death the deeds of the body” and thereby we show evidences that we are children of God because God will lead His children as the Shepherd leads his sheep. If we do not have the Spirit we do not even belong to Christ (Rom. 8:9)! But if we have the Spirit we belong to Christ and we have the ability and willingness to resist sin (Rom. 8:4-5, Gal. 5:16-17). Therefore, if we seek to obey God and walk by the Spirit (Gal. 5:16) we thereby show fruit that we belong to Christ and are children of the Most High God. We do not become children by obeying God and walking by the Spirit, but rather, if these things are true in our lives, they are true because they are evidences that we are children of God and are saved. They are fruits of salvation and not causes of salvation.

2. The Spirit here is said to be the Spirit of adoption. He is the Spirit through Whom we are adopted into the family of God. He is the Spirit who initiates our adoption and brings us into the family of God. He is the Spirit through Whom God's love comes to us (Rom. 5:5) and through Whom we are regenerated (John 3:3-8; Titus 3:5; etc.). He is not the Spirit of slavery, but rather of freedom, love, and peace. It is through the Spirit that we understand the things of God (1Cor. 2:12-14) and it is through the Spirit that we are able to know that God is our Father and seek to understand what that means.

3. The Holy Spirit in us bears testimony along with our own human spirit that we indeed belong to God. We ourselves are not sufficient witnesses...


1689 Baptist Confession Chapter 13: Of Sanctification - Commentary

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Chapter 13: Of Sanctification

Now that we were elected, called and justified we enter into the Christian life, which is one of growth in holiness with ups and downs. In this chapter, we will deal with the question concerning what sanctification is and how it works.


§1 Through The Virtue Of Christ's Death And Resurrection, Are Also Farther Sanctified, Really And Personally

  1. They who are united to Christ, effectually called, and regenerated, having a new heart and a new spirit created in them through the virtue of Christ's death and resurrection, are also farther sanctified, really and personally, through the same virtue, by His Word and Spirit dwelling in them; 4 the dominion of the whole body of sin is destroyed, and the several lusts thereof are more and more weakened and mortified, and they more and more quickened and strengthened in all saving graces, to the practice of all true holiness, 5 without which no man shall see the Lord. 6 
    1. 1 John 3:3-8; 1 John 2:29; 3:9-10; Rom. 1:7; 6:1-11; 15:16; 2 Cor. 1:1; Eph. 1:1; Phil. 1:1; Col. 3:12; Acts 20:32; 26:18; 1 Cor. 1:2, 6:11[1]
    2. 1 Thess. 5:23; Rom. 6:19, 22
    3. 1 Cor. 6:11; Acts 20:32; Phil. 3:10; Rom. 6:5-6
    4. John 17:17, Eph. 5:26; 3:16-19; Rom. 8:13
    5. Rom. 6:13-14; Gal. 5:17, 24; Rom. 8:13; Col. 1:11; Eph. 3:16-19; 4:22-25; 2 Cor. 7:1
    6. Heb. 12:14

Those who have been saved have a new heart and a new spirit created in them in accordance with the promise of the New Covenant (Ezek. 36:25-27). What this means is that they have a new nature and no longer are they enslaved by the old sinful nature inherited from Adam. This is all through the virtue of Christ's death and resurrection. Christ's work is the basis that we have a new nature. After having this new nature created in them, they are farther sanctified, really and personally (1Thess. 5:13; Rom. 6:22). To be sanctified means to be set apart. If we are being sanctified by the Holy Spirit it means that we are being more like Christ. This sanctification is through the same virtue as our receiving the new nature, i.e., by Christ's death and resurrection. The way that He sanctifies us is by His Word and Spirit dwelling in them (John 17:17; Rom. 8:13; Eph. 3:16-19; 5:26). Word and Spirit is also how He calls us to Himself (chapter 10:1). It is also how He keeps us for and to Himself. By this new nature and sanctification, the dominion of the whole body of sin is destroyed (Rom. 6:13-14). The dominion is destroyed, but sin is not yet uprooted. We are to fight. Several lusts of the flesh are more and more weakened and mortified (killed). Not only are we fighting and overcoming sin and temptation, but we are also progressing toward holiness in being more and more quickened and strengthened in all saving grace. This is so that we would practice all true holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord (Heb. 12:14). The Lord grants us holiness and calls us to holiness so that we would see Him.


United, Called and Regenerated

I refer the interested reader to the previous chapters where we dealt with these things. I lightly touched upon our union with Christ in chapter 8 paragraph 5. We dealt with the effectual call or Irresistible Grace in chapter 10 and Regeneration and Justification were dealt with in chapter 11.

Sanctification

What is sanctification? Wayne Grudem defines sanctification in this way:

Sanctification is a progressive work of God and man that makes us more and more free from sin and...


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

...ation 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 Covenant (see here), which could have provided eternal life if Adam obeyed, was broken. When that covenant was broken, the promise of eternal life by obedience was likewise broken and became unprofitable for Adam's fallen and sin-cursed descendant. The Covenant of Works made with Adam in Eden lost the ability to give the promise of eternal life because now it was broken. That covenant did not contain provisions for atonement and now it could only administer the curse of that covenant—death. We see in Genesis 3 that just after God, the covenant Lord, confronts Adam and Eve with their sin, He likewise gives the promise of the Savior:

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


1689 Baptist Confession Chapter 21: Of Christian Liberty and Liberty of Conscience - Commentary

...nsciences.[3]

We know and we are confident that if we go to God through Christ we will find Him sitting on the throne of grace from which He will pour His grace upon His needy children. We strive to love God and obey Him, not because we fear His punishment, but because He has displayed amazing grace and love to us and therefore we strive to show our thankfulness and love for Him. We love Him as our Father, and as His children, we seek to do that which is pleasing in His sight.

3. Fuller communications of the free Spirit of God

The Work Of The Holy Spirit in the lives of the believers after the ascension of Christ is greater than His work prior to that event. John says that the Spirit “dwells with you [the disciples] and will be in you” (John 14:17). He is at the present with them and around them, but in the future, He will be in them. Furthermore,

John 7:39 Now this he said about the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were to receive, for as yet the Spirit had not been given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.

Albert Barnes notes:

For the Holy Ghost was not yet given. Was not given in such full and large measures as should be after Jesus had ascended to heaven. Certain measures of the influences of the Spirit had been always given in the conversion and sanctification of the ancient saints and prophets; but that abundant and full effusion which the apostles were permitted afterward to behold had not yet been given. See Acts 2:1-12; Acts 10:44; Acts 10:45.[6]

It was necessary for the Son to go back to Heaven for the Spirit to descend upon the disciples (John 16:7). Sam Waldron writes:

The language used of the new presence of the Spirit—baptism, outpouring, river—all speaks of increase. This seems logical, because really to know the increased truth of the New Covenant requires increased measures of the Spirit.[7]

Moreover, the gifts of the Holy Spirit are, unlike under the Old Testament, distributed according to God’s will to all believers (1Cor. 12-14; Rom. 12:3-8). This was not the case under the Old Testament. Back then some of God’s people would have the gifts of the Spirit, but now all of them do. In the New Covenant, not only all covenant members have the Spirit (under the OT all true believers did have the indwelling Spirit), but also all have some gift(s) of the Holy Spirit:

1Cor .12:7 To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.

Oh, beloved brothers and sisters, how great are the liberties which God has blessed us with! Praise God from Whom all blessings and liberties flow!


§2 Liberty Of Conscience

  1. God alone is Lord of the conscience, and hath left it free from the doctrines and commandments of men which are in any thing contrary to his word, or not contained in it. So that to believe such doctrines, or obey such commands out of conscience, is to betray true liberty of conscience; and the requiring of an implicit faith, an absolute and blind obedience, is to destroy liberty of conscience and reason also. 4
    1. James 4:12; Rom. 14:4; Gal. 5:1
    2. Acts 4:19; 5:29; 1 Cor. 7:23; Matt. 15:9
    3. Col. 2:20, 22-23; Gal. 1:10; 2:3-5; 5:1
    4. Rom. 10:17; 14:23; Acts 17:11; John 4:22; 1 Cor 3:5; 2 Cor 1:24

God alone is Lord of the conscience (Jas. 4:12; Rom. 14:4), which means that God alone can dictate to us what we ought or ought not to do or believe. Therefore, since He is Lord of the conscience, He has left the consciences...