The Staunch Calvinist

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

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1689 Second Baptist Confession of Faith Highlighted

...he duty of every one to give all diligence to make his calling and election sure, that thereby his heart may be enlarged in peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, in love and thankfulness to God, and in strength and cheerfulness in the duties of obedience, the proper fruits of this assurance; -so far is it from inclining men to looseness.
  1. Acts 16:30-34; 1John 5:13
  2. Rom. 8:15-16; 1Cor. 2:12; Gal. 4:4-6 with 3:2;1John 4:13; Eph. 3:17-19; Heb. 6:11-12; 2Peter 1:5-11
  3. 2Peter 1:10; Ps. 119:32; Rom. 15:13; Neh. 8:10; 1John 4:19, 16; Rom. 6:1-2, 11-13; 14:17; Titus 2:11-14
  1. True believers may have the assurance of their salvation divers ways shaken, diminished, and intermitted; as by negligence in preserving of it, by falling into some special sin which woundeth the conscience and grieveth the Spirit; by some sudden or vehement temptation, by God's withdrawing the light of his countenance, and suffering even such as fear him to walk in darkness and to have no light, yet are they never destitute of the seed of God and life of faith, that love of Christ and the brethren, that sincerity of heart and conscience of duty out of which, by the operation of the Spirit, this assurance may in due time be revived, and by the which, in the meantime, they are preserved from utter despair.
    1. Heb. 6:11-12; 2 Peter 1:5-11
    2. Ps. 51:8, 12, 14; Eph. 4:30
    3. Ps. 30:7; 31:22; 77:7-8; 116:11
    4. Isa. 50:10
    5. 1 John 3:9; Luke 22:32; Rom. 8:15-16; Gal. 4:5; Ps. 42:5, 11

Chapter 19: Of the Law of God [Return] [Commentary]

  1. God gave to Adam a law of universal obedience written in his heart, and a particular precept of not eating the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil; by which he bound him and all his posterity to personal, entire, exact, and perpetual obedience; promised life upon the fulfilling, and threatened death upon the breach of it, and endued him with power and ability to keep it.
    1. Gen. 1:27; Eccles. 7:29; Rom. 2:12a, 14-15
    2. Gen. 2:16-17
    3. Gen. 2:16-17; Rom. 10:5; Gal. 3:10,12
  1. The same law that was first written in the heart of man continued to be a perfect rule of righteousness after the fall, and was delivered by God upon Mount Sinai, in ten commandments, and written in two tables, the four first containing our duty towards God, and the other six, our duty to man.
      1. 1st Commandment: Gen. 35:1-4; Exod. 18:11; Job 31:28; 42:1-2; Josh. 24:2
      2. 2nd Commandment: Gen. 35:1-4; Lev. 18:21, 27
      3. 3rd Commandment: Exod. 5:2; Lev. 18:21, 27; Job 2:9
      4. 4th Commandment: Gen. 2:2-3; Exod. 16; Gen. 7:4; 8:10, 12; Mark 2:27
      5. 5th Commandment, Gen. 3:17; 9:20-27; 37:10
      6. 6th Commandment: Gen. 4:3-15; John 8:44; Exod. 1:15-17; Job 24:14
      7. 7th Commandment: Gen. 12:17; 39:7-9; Lev. 18:20, 27; Job 24:15; 31:1
      8. 8th Commandment: Gen. 3:11; 30:33; 31:30-32; 40:15; 44:8-9; Job 24:14
      9. 9th Commandment: Gen. 3:4, 13-14; 12:11-13; 27:12; 29:25; Job 24:25; 27:4; 36:4; John 8:44
      10. 10th Commandment: Gen. 3:6; 6:2, 5; 13:10-11; Exod. 15:9-10; Job 31:1, 9-11
    1. Rom. 2:12a, 14-15
    2. Exod. 32:15-16; 34:4, 28; Deut. 10:4
  1. Besides this law, commonly called moral, God was pleased to give to the people of Israel ceremonial laws, containing several typical ordinances, partly of worship, prefiguring Christ, his graces, actions, sufferings, and benefits; and partly holding forth divers instructions of moral duties, all which ceremonial laws being appointed only ...

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

...oses of His death. How is that accomplished in those who remain enemies and who not merely "were” enemies? The Apostle limits the scope of His death to those who were justified. To those who because of their justification look forward to being saved from the wrath of God on the Day of Judgment. To those who were reconciled to God and looked forward to be saved by His life. The Lord's death for Paul's audience and by extension to all believers is what affected our reconciliation to God. Not all people are reconciled to God or justified, therefore Christ did not die for all people without exception. Again, the purpose limits the scope.

Titus 2:11-14

Titus 2:11-14 For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, 12 training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, 13 waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, 14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.

The reference to “all people” is not to all people without exception, but all people without distinction, i.e., all kinds of people. This is support by the context, which gives us a list of different kinds of people. For more, see 1 Timothy 2:4 & Titus 2:11, 'desires all people to be saved'.

God's salvation has reached to all kinds of people even in the time of Paul (Col. 1:6) and all kinds of people were being saved and transferred from the kingdom of Satan to the kingdom of God. This salvation of God teaches us and causes us to hate and renounce all ungodliness and walk in ways of the Lord, for His name's sake. We are to live in a manner worthy of His holy name, as we await His Parousia which Paul calls “our blessed hope.” Verse 14 is what we need to look at for our purpose. It is in many ways similar to Ephesians 5:25-27. Our great God and Savior Jesus Christ gave Himself ὑπὲρ ἡμῶν (huper humon)—in our place, and that for a purpose. The purpose clause ἵνα (hina) is translated with “to.” The purpose was to redeem us from all lawlessness. Will He accomplish His work? Will anyone of “us”, which are the believers (Tit 1:1-4), fail to be redeemed from all lawlessness by Christ the Lord? Certainly not, the Christ will never fail to accomplish the Father's will for Him. The second reason for His giving himself for us is “to purify for himself a people.” You would have expected in the same way that all people in v. 11 is interpreted by Arminians as referring to all people without exception, so likewise here it would say “to purify for himself all people.” But that is not what we have in the text. Rather the text is very specific and narrow in its scope. It is to purify a specific people. I hear echoes of Exodus 19:5-6 in here.

Just like God in the Old Covenant promised the nation of Israel upon the condition of obedience to His covenant and laws that they would become His treasured possession. So likewise Christ the Lord's purpose in giving Himself for us is so that we will be a people for his own possession. Not that we would obey to be so, but His death makes us so. Paul gives us two effects and purposes of the Lord's death: 1) to redeem us from lawlessness and 2) to purify a people for himself. The extent, therefore, has to be the "us" of believers and those whom Christ has as “a people for his own possessio...


1689 Baptist Confession Chapter 11: Of Justification - Commentary

...yle="color: #ffa500;"has been born of him

ποιῶν (poion, G4160, to make or do), like πιστεύων (pisteun, G4100, to have faith) is a present active participle. We find the same perfect passive indicative γεγέννηται (gegenetai, G1080) here again. It is orthodox and faithful to Scripture to say that the fact that we were born from God was the cause of us doing righteousness (e.g. Eph. 2:8-10; Titus 2:11-14). We do righteousness at the present only because in the past we were born of God. To say otherwise is to make salvation to be by works and not grace, thus a denial of the Gospel. The reason why we do righteousness is that we were born of God and we desire to please God (Ezek. 36:25-27). We do not do righteousness to be born of God. That is works-salvation and that is another gospel!

The same construction is also found in 1 John 3:9, but for our last example, I want to look at 1 John 4:7—

1 John 4:7 Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. 

ἀγαπῶν (agapon, G25) is again like in the two other passages, present active participle and γεγέννηται (gegenetai, G1080) is perfect passive indicative. The reason that we love is because we were born of God. We do not become regenerate because we love. It is the opposite. See among many other places about love in John's letter 1 John 4:8-12. Love is the effect, not the cause of regeneration.

Now we come back 1 John 5:1. I believe that we have successfully argued from the similar use of the Greek construction in other passages by John that the “born of God” precedes and results in that one “believes that Jesus is the Christ”. 1 John 5:1 is definite and explicit upon the teaching that regeneration precedes faith.

See Dr. James White, 1John 5:1, We are Born Again Then We Believe and 1 John 5:1, Regeneration, Faith, and Tradition Driven Eisegesis.

The Analogy and Other Considerations

The prime text for regeneration is John 3 and that is our Lord's discourse with Nicodemus. There the Lord tells Nicodemus that he must be born again (John 3:3). What does that analogy mean? I believe it is the fulfillment of the promised New Covenant in Ezekiel 36:25-27. Regeneration is the secret act of God wherein He gives us a new heart and a new spirit. He basically makes us new creatures. That's what regeneration is. Now, going back to the analogy. Nicodemus takes Jesus' words in John 3:3 a little bit too literally when he says “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother's womb and be born?” (John 3:4). But Nicodemus's words express some important things. Although he misunderstood the nature of the new birth, his objection stands. His objection is basically, how can anyone cause himself to be born again? How can he enter into the womb and will himself to be born? Just like with our natural birth, we had nothing to do with it. In all of it, we were passive. We were conceived by our parents without our will being involved and we were born without our will being involved (cf. John 1:12-13). Now we transition to the spiritual realm. Those who believe that faith precedes regeneration would have us believe that people can choose to be spiritually reborn. The problem with this is the testimony of the Bible about unregenerate man's condition:

  • dead in trespasses and sins (Eph. 2:1, 5; Col. 2:13),
  • hates God (Rom. 1:30),
  • slave to sin and Satan (John 8:34-36, 44; Eph. 2:2-3; 2Tim. 2:25-26; Rom. 6:16-17...

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

...

1 Timothy 2:1-6 & Titus 2:11[1]

First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, 2 for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. 3 This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, 4 who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. 5 For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, 6 who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time. (1 Timothy 2:1-6, ESV)

(For a better and a more recent defense of 1Tim 2:4 see here.)

This is one of the “Arminian Big Three” which you will get almost in every conversation about Calvinism in real life or online. Usually verses 3-4 are just quoted to make the case that God wants to save every single individual. The question is, does “all” in context really mean “every single individual in the world”? Or is this talking about God’s desire not His sovereign decree?

Will of Desire interpretation

There are some people who understand this passage and other passages like 2 Pet 3:9 to refer to God’s will of desire. God’s will of desire being, God’s desire that people should not murder, lie, steal, commit adultery or have other gods before Him (Ex 20), but He doesn’t decree that it should be done so. It is also called His will of precept.

So God’s will of desire refers to the things that God has not decreed in His sovereign plan before the foundation of the world, yet desires. In this interpretation, God would desire that all be saved, but He has not decreed that all should be saved, because He wants to show the full measure of His glory (Rom 9:22-24). I don’t find this interpretation compelling and I believe the following interpretation is more compelling.

The “all kinds of people” interpretation

The major Reformed interpretation takes the position that the word “all” in this context means “all kinds of people,” not every single individual, why do we say that? Because there are times in Scripture when “all” is used in the sense of “every single individual in the world”, but there are times which it isn’t used like that, but limited according to the context. Let’s look at a few verses, shall we? The portion we’re going to look at is in Titus 2. Here we see that Paul is telling Timothy to teach “sound doctrine.” Then we see him list types/groups of people:

2. Older men are to be sober-minded…

3. Older women likewise…

4. so train the young women to love their husbands and children

6. …urge the younger men

9. Slaves

11. For the grace of God has appeared bringing salvation for all people,

12. training us to renounce ungodliness

13. waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ,

14. who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.

We see that Paul in verse 11 says that salvation has been brought for all people, but considering the context we can safely say that it means “all kinds of people,” since in the previous verses he was talking about kinds of people (men, women, slaves, etc..). We can reasonably say that what Paul is saying through “all people” is “all kinds of people,” (as we understand that in our individualistic society) just as those ki...


2 Corinthians 5:14-15, 'he died for all'

...squo;s death, the death penalty for sin (see Gen. 2:17) has been paid for all those who trust in him (see Rom. 3:21–26; 5:6–8; 1 Cor. 15:3; Gal. 3:13), and God counts their old life as ended, thus freeing them from any future penal claims. he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him. As a consequence of Christ’s death, the power of sin in one’s life (see Gen. 3:1–7) has also been broken for all those who trust in Christ (cf. Rom. 6:1–14). Christ’s cross therefore frees the believer for a new way of life, exemplified by Paul himself as one that the love of Christ controls (see Titus 2:11–14).[1]

The ESV MacArthur Study Bible says the following:

2 Cor. 5:14 the love of Christ. Christ’s love for Paul and all believers at the cross (cf. Rom. 5:6–8). Christ’s loving, substitutionary death motivated Paul’s service for him (cf. Gal. 2:20; Eph. 3:19). controls. This refers to pressure that causes action. Paul emphasized the strength of his desire to offer his life to the Lord. one has died for all. This expresses the truth of Christ’s substitutionary death. The preposition “for” indicates he died “in behalf of,” or “in the place of ” all (cf. Isa. 53:4–12; Gal. 3:13; Heb. 9:11–14). This truth is at the heart of the doctrine of salvation. God’s wrath against sin required death; Jesus took that wrath and died in the sinner’s place. Thus he took away God’s wrath and satisfied God’s justice as a perfect sacrifice (see notes on 2 Cor. 5:21; Rom. 5:6–11, 18–19; 1 Tim. 2:5–6; cf. Eph. 5:2; 1 Thess. 5:10; Titus 2:14; 1 Pet. 2:24). therefore all have died. Everyone who died in Christ receives the benefits of his substitutionary death (see notes on Rom. 3:24–26; 6:8). With this short phrase, Paul defined the extent of the atonement and limited its application. This statement logically completes the meaning of the preceding phrase, in effect saying, “Christ died for all who died in him,” or “One died for all, therefore all died” (see notes on 2 Cor. 5:19–21; cf. John 10:11–16; Acts 20:28). Paul was overwhelmed with gratitude that Christ loved him and was so gracious as to make him a part of the “all” who died in him.[2]

The HCSB Study Bible says about 2 Corinthians 5:13-15:

5:13-14 Paul's opponents probably had suggested that he was religiously unbalanced (see Ac 26:24). He was "insane" in that Christ's love compelled him into vigorous apostolic ministry. On the other hand, his ministry among the Corinthians had never been that of a madman (1Co 2:1-5). Indeed, he had kept his "third heaven" vision private for 14 years until he mentioned it later in this letter (12:1-10). The heart of Paul's message was that the Jewish Messiah had died on behalf of all kinds of sinners (1Co 15:3). Jews as well as Gentiles were included in Jesus' substitutionary death (Rev 7:9). In union with Christ, sinners who believe the gospel have died to sin and have been raised to walk i

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

...ry one to give all diligence to make his calling and election sure, that thereby his heart may be enlarged in peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, in love and thankfulness to God, and in strength and cheerfulness in the duties of obedience, the proper fruits of this assurance; so far is it from inclining men to looseness.3 
  1. Acts 16:30-34; 1John 5:13
  2. Rom. 8:15-16; 1Cor. 2:12; Gal. 4:4-6 with 3:2;1John 4:13; Eph. 3:17-19; Heb. 6:11-12; 2Peter 1:5-11
  3. 2Peter 1:10; Ps. 119:32; Rom. 15:13; Neh. 8:10; 1John 4:19, 16; Rom. 6:1-2, 11-13; 14:17; Titus 2:11-14

This infallible assurance does not come directly nor doth...so belong to the essence of faith. In other words, just because someone has faith does not mean they also have and know of this infallible assurance. They do have assurance if they have true faith, but they do not have a knowledge of it or they do not embrace it. These two are different. All believers will certainly remain in the state of grace. But not all believers know or live in light of this infallible assurance. Therefore, a true believer may wait long, and conflict with many difficulties before he attains that assurance. We do not need extraordinary revelation to know of this assurance. But the Spirit enables us to come to know of this assurance through the right use of means (1John 5:13 “these things”). God has given us His Word and Spirit whereby we may know of and embrace this assurance. The Bible calls us to make our calling and election sure (2Pet. 1:10), therefore, it is the duty of every one to seek to have this assurance of faith and salvation. This is so that his heart may be enlarged in peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, in love and thankfulness to God. It is such an amazing grace to know that we are saved and may be assured of our eternal salvation. It is such a fountain which can endlessly bring forth praise unto God for His amazing grace toward us. Instead of leading us to looseness, it leads us to more obedience toward God as a sign of thankfulness for His amazing grace.


Seek Assurance!

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

2Pet. 1:3-10 His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, 4 by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world ...