Simon Wartanian's Profile
117 posts by Simon Wartanian
In the past few months, I’ve been pushing myself to continue my study of Greek which I began in 2013, having finished the section on verbs in Mounce’s Basics of Biblical Greek, I started looking for flowcharts to help me with parsing. I came across one on which I based mine.
I pray that it is helpful to you.
Edit: There was a mistake that I corrected concerning the 2 Aorist. The tense formative σα goes with passive voice instead of the active/middle.
I've found myself lately to be diving into the subject of baptism again and especially searching old resources. Some great books were transcribed and available at Reformed Baptist Disk, but many more are not yet transcribed or properly formatted. But there are a lot of works which are available in scanned form (especially on Google Books) and image-to-text form on Early English Books. I first came across these sites and resources thanks to Samuel Renihan's blog post. Tip: use the Wayback Machine to access some (currently) dead links. I've also formatted Isaac Backus’ A Short Description of the Difference between the Bond-Woman and the Free, but it still needs a proof read. But I will post it here soon, Lord willing. But for now:
Benjamin Keach – Gold Refin’d, or Baptism in its Primitive Purity (1689)
If you find any mistakes and would like to report them, then feel free to respond back to this message or message me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
"But the seventh day is the sabbath" ("weyôm hashshibi'i") —not, as the Seventh Day Adventists insist, "the seventh day of the week", but simply, "the seventh day", that is, the seventh day in relation to the six days of labour just described in the previous verse. Hence the hebdomadal cycle of work and rest is clearly taught by the Commandment; but the precise day of the week which is the sabbath in each particular dispensation must be established by the extra-Decalogical data of the dispensation concerned. It is, however, always "the sabbath of the Lord thy God" — the day of man's personal Re-creating Creator ("Yăhvęh 'Elôhęykă"), and not of man.
It has been argued by Brandon Adams that the major theses of Pink was consistent with 1689 Federalism, which teaches that only the New Covenant is the Covenant of Grace. All the other OT covenants were not “administrations” of the Covenant of Grace. You will not find in this work the model of “one covenant, multiple administrations” that is associated with Westminster Federalism. Rather, you will find that all of the OT covenants “adumbrated” the “everlasting covenant of grace”, were subservient to the divine purpose of mercy and grace and contained gracious promises.
There are some statements which could be interpreted in favor of Westminster Federalism, which I have also included under the heading “Westminster Sounding Statements". But in reading these we must keep in mind the main theses of the work and how Pink uses certain words, for example, “administration.” I do believe that a fair interpretation can be given to these statements without doing violence to the meaning of Pink, but I'll leave that task to the interested reader.
One difficult statement for me to interpret has to do with the idea of “renewal.” For example:
Just as the various Messianic prophecies, given by God at different times and at wide intervals, were suited to the local occasions when they were first made, so it was in the different renewals of His covenant of grace. Each of those renewals—unto Abraham, Moses, David and so forth—adumbrated some special feature of the everlasting covenant into which God had entered with the Mediator; but the immediate circumstances of each of those favored men molded, or gave form to, each particular feature of the eternal agreement which was severally shadowed forth unto them.
What does Pink mean by “renewal”? It seems to be “adumbrating” (an old word which he uses a lot meaning “disclose, foreshadow”) features from the Covenant of Grace. This is confirmed when we look to the chapters on those covenants which he mentions in the above citations. These covenants are subordinate to the ultimate “everlasting covenant of grace” and reveal it, but they are distinguished. The idea of “renewal” being a further adumbration of the Covenant of Grace is also confirmed in another quote:
They were all of them revelations of God’s gracious purpose, exhibited at first in an obscure form, but unfolding according to an obvious law of progress: each renewal adding something to what was previously known, so that the path of the just was as the shining light, which shone more and more unto the perfect day, when the shadows were displaced by the substance itself.
Therefore, Pink probably does not give “renewal” the same definition as our Westminster Federalism brothers, which is to establish or administer (in the sense of WCF ...
John Owen’s Case for Particular Atonement
Dr. John Owen’s work titled “The Death of Death in the Death of Christ” is, by the admission of many Calvinists, the most extensive work on the doctrine of Limited Atonement, or better named, Particular/Definite or Atonement/Redemption. Therefore, it is beneficial for us to take a brief look at his case for Particular Atonement over against Universal Atonement. Dr. Owen is aware and acquainted with the material of the opposing position and he interacts with them and answers their objections. He is not writing against caricatures of the opposing side but has researched the materials and arguments of the opposing side and, in my opinion, utterly refutes their arguments.
Almost everyone who has any reasonable knowledge of the debates concerning limited or unlimited atonement must have heard of Owen’s trilemma, which we have presented above. The trilemma is really forceful, but it is merely one argument out many more from Dr. Owen’s arsenal. The trilemma is not his only argument for Particular Redemption. But it may be an accurate summary of his case. He argues each of his points biblically. For a good summary of his arguments see here.
Dr. Owen’s book is divided into four books and various chapters dealing with the issues related to the atonement.
- Book 1 (8 chapters) deals with the purpose of the Trinity in the design of the atonement.
- Book 2 (5 chapters) deals with the effects and application of the work of Christ.
- Book 3 (11 chapters) presents 16 arguments against Universal Atonement and for Definite Atonement.
- Book 4 (7 chapters) answers various interpretations and objections to Particular Atonement.
Note: All biblical references in the quotes are modernized (e.g. John i. 1 to John 1:1 for the ease of reading and the recognition by the Scripture Tag).
First, he enquires about the “general of the end [i.e., purpose] of the death of Christ” (book I, chap. 1). What does the big picture of Scripture say about the death of Christ? What is indisputable there about it? He divides this question into two sections:
- “that which his Father and himself intended in it” (book I, chap. 1):
- Luke 19:10 For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”
- 1Tim. 1:15 The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost.
- Matt. 20:28 even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
- Gal. 1:4 who gave himself for our sins to deliver us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father,
- Eph. 5:25-27 Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, 26 that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water...
Hell Under Fire:
Modern Scholarship Reinvents Eternal Punishment
By Christopher W. Morgan & Robert A. Peterson
Hell Under Fire: Modern Scholarship Reinvents Eternal Punishment. Ed. by Christopher W. Morgan, Robert A. Peterson. (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2004).
Had this book sitting on my shelf for a while and thought that it would merely be an academic book and a dry read. I couldn't be more wrong. Surely it was academic, but never on a level that made it impossible for an average Bible student to understand.
The Book and Its Content
The authors are top-notch theologians in our day who in this book respond to Annihilationism and Universalism, while at the same time give a biblical and holistic picture of hell. The subject of hell is sobering and terrifying. As believers we know that thanks to Christ we have been saved from this awful fate, which we should recognize--we rightly deserve. We likewise believe that all those without the Gospel of Christ, do not have a hope, are under the wrath of God and will everlastingly be under the wrath of God. It is terrifying to think of that and we cannot, without sympathy, discard the emotional appeal of Universalists and Annihilationists. The Bible is the sole infallible and highest authority for the Christian and if the Bible teaches that historical view of hell, then my emotions do not matter and cannot settle the truth about hell. It is as simple as that.
This book contains 10 chapters dealing, containing among other things,
- a historical survey about hell up to our day (chapter 1, by Albert Mohler Jr.);
- the OT and hell (chapter 2, by Daniel I. Block);
- the Lord Jesus and Hell (chapter 3, by Robert W. Yarbough);
- Paul and Hell (chapter 4, by Douglas J. Moo);
- the Apocalypse and Hell (chapter 5, by G. K. Beale);
- Biblical and Systematic Theology as it relates to hell (chapters 7-8, by Christopher W. Morgan and Robert A. Peterson, respectively);
- an examination of Universalism and its arguments (chapter 8, by J. I. Packer);
- an examination of Annihilationism and its arguments (chapter 9, by Christopher W. Morgan); and finally
- Hell and pastoral theology (chapter 10, by Sinclair Ferguson).
There is a ton to be learned in these chapters by the Bible student. What is to be learned from this book should not only fill our heads with information, but motivate us to share the Gospel with the lost because of the dreadful fate which faces them if they receive not Christ and His righteousness.
The reason we believe in the existence and everlasting nature of hell and of its punishment is simply because we believe that Holy Writ teaches it. If it were not for the words of the Lord Jesus Christ Himself, who spoke more often about hell than Heaven, we would not believe in Hell, because it is so repugnant to our fallen natures.
This work continually interacts with popular scholarship as it regards the nature of hell and the arguments for and agains...
The Israel of God:
Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow
By O. Palmer Robertson
O. Palmer Robertson. The Israel of God: Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow. (Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Pub. 2000)
For those who have come out of Dispensationalism or want to know what covenant theologians believe about Israel, this is the book. This is a book which deals with the place and identity of Israel in the plan of God. In six chapters Dr. Robertson discusses different topics regarding Israel from its identity to its future.
Overall, I found this to be a very helpful and edifying book. The Bible and the truths of the New Covenant were the interpreting lens for everything. We do not look to outside events and force those within the Bible.
The Occasion for the Book
In the Introduction Dr. Robertson begins with a quotation from Bill Clinton when he was the president of the USA, about Israel:
“'If you abandon Israel, God will never forgive you' ... it is God's will that Israel, the biblical home of the people of Israel, continue for ever and ever.” So spoke the President of the United States in a speech delivered before the Israeli Knesset assembled in Jerusalem. He was recalling with apparent approval the words of his desperately ill pastor. He concluded the speech by saying, “Your journey is our journey, and America will stand with you now and always.” (p. 1)
It seems that this and such mindset was the driving force behind writing this book. The book is not polemic, but rather, it simply presents what the Bible as a whole teaches on some topics related to the Israel of God. It is obviously against Dispensationalism by its adherence to Covenant Theology, but it does not attack Dispensationalism directly. Its purpose is to set a positive case on what the Bible says without really engaging with the other side.
The first chapter is dedicated to the Land of Israel. This is a hot issue nowadays. I will be the first to tell you that I hate politics and I don’t want to do anything with it and there is a lot of politics involved with Israel in the Middle East. I am not interested in political discussions. I am a theology nerd. I am interested in the theological claim of the land and God’s plan with the Jews.
Dr. Robertson argues that the “concept of a land that belongs to God’s people originated in Paradise” (p. 4). Adam was told to work the land and multiply. That was the original ideal plan if the Fall had not taken place. Then the whole earth would have been God’s land and God’s temple. The land being a sanctuary is another aspect. This is why the Lord God tells Israel that “I will make my dwelling among you, and my soul shall not abhor you. 12 And I will walk among you and will be your God, and you shall be my people” (Lev 26:11-12). God places His sanctuary among His people like He did with the Tabernacle and Temple. This concept of the sanctuary of God among His people had its fulfillment in Jesus Christ of Whom it is written that ...
This is the Day
The Biblical Doctrine of the Christian Sunday in Its Jewish and Early Church Setting
by Roger T. 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 Fath...
About a year ago or more, I started diving into the 1689 Baptist Confession of faith to study it. My main purpose was not to study the Confession per sé, but to study the doctrines asserted by the Confession and to see if they were biblical. My main focus was to teach myself to make a biblical case for cardinal doctrines which Reformed folk believe, and I believe that I have been able to make a biblical case for every (or almost all?) doctrine which is espoused by the Confession to my satisfaction. If you want a study which focuses on the words of the Confession, this is not what you're looking for. If you're looking for a study which intends to make a case for the doctrines asserted, you may be blessed by this study. Basically, the purpose was to teach myself systematic theology and teach myself to defend Reformed doctrine biblically.
I cannot say that I disagree with any doctrine in the Confession, but there may be some who may question whether I hold to the Confession, especially chapter 1, because I consider myself a theological continuationist. I stress theological, because I do not practice “prophecy” or “speaking in tongues.” Practically, I'm a cessationist with a very high view of Holy Writ and critical of charismania and those weird things which you see on the Net of charismatics. The study on the gifts is one which I started, but have not finished yet (I have not read all the books which I have purchased from both sides). But I must honestly say that I'm not convinced of cessationism because I don't believe the Bible teaches it. The statement in 1:1 which says “those former ways of God's revealing his will unto his people being now ceased” may be the only one which I would interpret differently.
I'm not big on names, it doesn't matter to me if one considers me a Reformed Baptist or not, I will not pride myself in that, either way it is not essential to me what title I have besides Δοῦλος Χριστοῦ.
- ^ The dates of publication which every post has for the Confession, do not mean that I finished the commentary on that day. At the beginning I commented very briefly (few lines) on the whole Confession, just because I was simply willing to know what it taught. Sometime after, I'm not sure when, maybe a year ago, I started enlarging the chapters and adding more of my thoughts and comments. The first longest chapter was chapter 7 on God's Covenants, which makes a case for 1689 Federalism.
- ^ https://1689commentary.org/ is such a study.
Dr. Robert Paul Martin
The Christian Sabbath
Its Redemptive-Historical Foundation, Present Obligation, and Practical Observance
"A masterpiece and a biblically grounded book" is how I would describe this amazing work. He engaged with those with whom he disagrees. He demonstrate a spirit of love and respect toward those with whom he disagrees. The tone is never harsh.
He grounds the Sabbath in Creation, goes to every major text in the Old Testament concerning the Sabbath. Demonstrates his ability in linguistics and in his knowledge of various interpretations of some texts. The footnotes are just great!
He then goes on to make a case for Sabbath observance under the New Covenant, but he does this by first going to major texts on the abiding validity of the Law in the New Covenant. He goes on to demonstrate our Lord's teaching on the Sabbath. He never did abrogated it, but cleared it from Pharisaic legalism. He has two chapters on works of piety and necessity and works of mercy.
He then moves to consider four misused texts: Rom 14:5-6; Gal 4:9-11; Eph 2:14-15; Col 2:16. He makes a case that none of these texts speak of the abrogation of the moral duty of observing one day out of seven as a Sabbath already established at Creation. He then moves on to consider Hebrews 4:9 wherein we are clearly told that there is still, for the New Covenant people of God, an obligation of Sabbath-keeping.
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 S...
The Regulative Principle of Worship, yo!
Hebrews 6:4-6 – It is impossible to restore them again to repentance
Heb 6:4-6 For it is impossible, in the case of those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, and have shared in the Holy Spirit, 5 and have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come, 6 and then have fallen away, to restore them again to repentance, since they are crucifying once again the Son of God to their own harm and holding him up to contempt.
(This post is taken from a section in my commentary on chapter 17 of the 1689 Baptist Confession, so there are some things here that have been previously argued for, as for example the positive case for the doctrine of Perseverance).
This is arguably one of the most difficult and notorious passages in Holy Writ. There is no consensus on its interpretation. I have consulted many commentaries and articles on this passage and I come to it knowing that I don’t have all the answers. But I also come to it with presuppositions in mind. I am unashamed to say that the Bible does in fact teach the Perseverance of the Saints, therefore this passage cannot be describing the actual apostasy of a regenerate believer totally from the faith. It may be a warning about true believers, it may be hypothetical, but what it cannot be is say that some true and regenerate believers will in fact fall away completely from the faith. I have argued that even in the book of Hebrews itself, the doctrine of Perseverance and the perfection of the work of Christ on behalf of the elect is taught. I have consulted the following articles and commentaries and will cite from some of them freely in the following discussion:
The passage does not say that regenerate believers apostatize:
- John Calvin. Commentaries. Taken from the TheWord Bible Software. Hebrews 6:4-9. Can also be found at here.
- John Gill. Exposition of the Entire Bible. Taken from the TheWord Bible Software. Hebrews 6:4-9. Can also be read at here.
- Arthur W. Pink. Exposition of Hebrews. Taken from the TheWord Bible Software. Chapters 24-27. His commentary on Hebrews 6 can be found here.
- Wayne Grudem. Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine. (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1994). Chapter 40.
- John M. Frame. Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Christian Belief. (Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing, 2014). Chapter 44.
- J. Ligon Duncan III – Falling Away? (Sermon)
- Mathew Poole - English Annotations on the Holy Bible. Commentary on Hebrews 6, here.
- William Burkitt – Expository Notes with Practical Observations on the New Testament. Commentary on Hebrews 6, here.
- Albert Barnes - Notes on the New Testament. Commentary on Hebrews 6, here. He accepts that the descriptions describe a true Christian, but rejects that it is possible for a true Christian to apostatize.
- Robert Jamieson, Andrew Robert Fausset, David Brown – Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible. Commentary on Hebrews 6, he...
For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; 15 and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised. 16 From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard him thus no longer. 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. 18 All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; 19 that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. 20 Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. 21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. (2 Corinthians 5:14-21)
“Can it get plainer than this? Don’t you see that it says ‘he died for all.’” Well, we could take the “all’s” there to mean “every individual who has ever lived on this planet”, but we will lose biblically consistency.
This is going to be a little bit lengthy and that because I decided that we must deal with the clear context of the passage about Christ's death for a specific people rather than addressing verses 14-15 only.
The context speaks of the ministry of reconciliation which we as believers and evangelists have received to share with the world. We are to call everyone to repentance and faith in Christ.
In verse 14 Paul says that the love of Christ controls, constrains and compels us based on the fact that Christ has died for all. But we must dig deeper to understand the meaning of the word “all” in this context.
We must illustrate what verses 14 and 15 are saying in a table:
|The action||The Result|
|One has died for all||All have died|
|He died for all||“...no longer live for themselves, but for him who for their sake died and was raised”|
The death of Christ was also the death of all. How can this be if this speaks of all men without exception? For all men were already dead in sin and trespasses because of Adam (Eph 2:1-3), but this speaks of Christ substitutionary death. This is seen from the fact that Paul speaks of us being united to Christ in His death. See for example Gal 2:20 –
I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
Who else but the elect can say these words? Can any reprobate truly say that they were united with Christ in His death and they frustrated the purpose of His death? Because from Gal 2:20 it is clear that the result from being uni...
In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, 8 which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight: 9 making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ 10 as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth. (Ephesians 1:7-10)
This is a verse (v. 9) frequently used by Universalists that I’ve seen on the Internet. The idea is that Christ will “unite” everything in Himself, meaning, people who did not repent and trust in the Lord Jesus Christ will be saved – eventually, they may have to go to Purgatory or a “temporal hell,” but in the end “Love Wins” and they are saved.
Well let’s take a close look at the word “unite,” it’s the Strong’s G346: 
- Original: ἀνακεφαλαίομαι
- Transliteration: Anakephalaiomai
- Phonetic: an-ak-ef-al-ah'-ee-om-ahee
1. to sum up (again), to repeat summarily, to condense into a summary
- Origin: from G303 and G2775 (in its original sense)
- TDNT entry: 14:21,4
- Part(s) of speech: Verb
I think it is helpful to see how other translations other than the ESV have translated the verse:
KJV: That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; [even] in him:
NASB: with a view to an administration suitable to the fullness of the times, that is, the summing up of all things in Christ, things in the heavens and things on the earth. In Him
HCSB: for the administration of the days of fulfillment — to bring everything together in the Messiah, both things in heaven and things on earth in Him.
ISV: to usher in the fullness of the times and to gather up all things in Christ, both things in heaven and things on earth.
NET: toward the administration of the fullness of the times, to head up all things in Christ – the things in heaven and the things on earth.
The NET Bible comments as following on the word ἀνακεφαλαιώσασθαι:
The precise meaning of the infinitive ἀνακεφαλαιώσασθαι (anakefalaiwsasqai) in v. 10 is difficult to determine since it was used relatively infrequently in Greek literature and only twice in the NT (here and Rom 13:9). While there have been several suggestions, three deserve mention: (1) “To sum up.” In Rom 13:9, using the same term, the author there says that the law may be “summarized in one command, to love your neighbor as yourself.” The idea then in Eph 1:10 would be that all things in heaven and on earth can be summed up and made sense out of in relation to Christ. (2) “To renew.” If this is the nuance of the verb then all things in heaven and earth, after their plunge into sin and ruin, are renewed by the coming of Christ and his redemption. (3) “To head up.” In this translation the idea is that Christ, in the fullness of the times, has b...
Signs of the Apostles
Observations On Pentecostalism Old And New
My feelings are mixed concerning this small volume. I believe that his case for cessationism did not stand. I believe that he misused some passages to make his case. Here are a few things that raised my eyebrows.
First, he argues that miracles were given for attestation from the narrative of Moses (Ex 4:5) and NT. No one disagrees, but he makes attestation the primary purpose of miracles. And not simple attestation, rather attestation for prophetic ministry. Miracles were connected with the prophets as he tries to argue from Ex 4:5 and Deut 34:10-11 (later from Elijah's example in 1Kings 18:36). But then he raises the anticipated objection about the miracles of Samson or the other prophets, his answer is not satisfying. He basically says that the "history is incomplete" (p. 11), i.e. we do not have everything that they did, therefore, they must have done some prophetic stuff as leaders of God's people. That is unsatisfactory.
Second, he uses Psalm 74:9 to say that "This is a striking endorsement of the principle that only prophets work miracles. Where miracles are performed we should expect to hear the inspired Word of God spoken. When there is no prophet, there are no signs." (p. 12)
Here pastor Chantry understands the signs to refer to the miracles of the prophets. But I believe what is a more proper sense of the verse is to speak of the Temple. The enemies of Israel as they are described in verse 4 "have roared in the midst of your [God's] meeting place; they set up their own signs for signs." The enemies of Israel have set up their own things in the Temple of God as signs. But now destitute of the Temple (in the time of the exile), the Israelites do not have their signs, i.e. the ark, the sacrifices, the temple which pictured to the people the presence of God among them.
Whatever the sense of the text, this does not have bearing upon the miracles when we come to the NT as on Pentecost when they were to be poured out on all people (Acts 2:17ff).
Third, he uses Galatians 3:5 to say "Paul appealed to his miracle-working power as evidence that he, rather than the Judaizers, ought to be believed." (p. 15) Where does Paul fit into the text? The text reads "Does he who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you do so by works of the law, or by hearing with faith— ". Can it be that this is based upon the assumption that only the apostles can work miracles while the verse doesn't say a word about such a thing?
Fourth, he limits the scope of Hebrews 2:3-4 to the apostles though he does not explicitly say that (pp. 15-16). But the text does not reject the present work of God among the Hebrews, it simply highlights God's work among the Apostles.
Fifth, he anticipates the objection of non-apostles doing miracles and he raises the case of Philip in Acts 8:4-15. Then there's some weird comment about the people to whom Philip had preached that "[c]e...
To Be Continued?
Are The Miraculous Gifts For Today?
Dr. Waldron is a respectful and good Christian scholar, but this work was not written for the big scholars, but was written for the lay Christian who is interested in topic of the gifts of the Holy Spirit.
I liked the book and I thought that it was a pretty good case for cessationism. He tried to interact for example with Grudem on some points.
The argument is basically:
1. There are no apostles
2. Therefore there are no prophets
3. Therefore there are no tongue-speaks
4. Therefore there are no miracle-workers
First of all, by the use of Ephesians 4:9-11 he spends a paragraph or two to say that the apostolate was a gift. The word for gift in verse 9 is not the usual χάρισμα (charisma). He does not interact with those who do not accept that the apostolate was a (spiritual) gift, but rather a ministry or an office. This in my opinion is the biggest flaw in his argument.
The Cascade Argument is built around and based upon the point that the greatest "gift" – the apostolate has ceased in the first century. He in fact makes a good case on the cessation of the apostolate, but does not make a convincing case that it was a spiritual gift like those mentioned in 1Cor 12:7-10 for example. Therefore, his Cascading Argument becomes weak. This is a point that Matt Slick also brought in the back-and-forth in their debate.
The argument basically starts with, if the greatest gift has ceased, it is therefore possible that the other "miraculous" gifts have also ceased. I don't believe that the NT makes such a distinction between the gifts as the “ordinary” and “extraordinary”, or “non-miraculous” and “miraculous.” I have not been able to find this distinction yet in the text of Scripture.
He demonstrates from the OT that a prophet was simply the mouth of God to the people (Ex 4:10-17; 7:1-2). Also, what the prophets said had to be 100% accurate according to the regulations of Deuteronomy 13:1-5 and 18:15-22. Therefore he proceeds to the New Testament with the same definition of prophecy and this is understandable.
He first considers few passages used in support of continuationism including Ephesians 4:11-13; 1 Cor 13:8-13 and the case of Agabus (Acts 21:10-11).
On Ephesians 4 he says that if we maintain that everything in verse 11 is needed for our maturity and unity in the faith then we are proving too much. If we follow that, then we must also say that the apostolate must continue, but we have proven that it in fact did not continue. Therefore, he says that the apostles must refer to the writings and teaching of the apostles that we have in the New Testament and prophets or prophecy refers to the book of Revelation. He does not dispute if we have prophecy (i.e. the book of Revelation), rather if we have ongoing or new prophecy.
I don't think that the putting of Revelation under the category of "prophets" is right. John w...
Yes, we are ;) Reference
The Fatal Flaw
Of the Theology behind Infant Baptism
For some time I have tried to get my hands on Jeffery Johnson’s book, but Amazon did not provide it as new. That is, until I saw it on Solid Ground Books. I was able to get it along with the Kingdom of God and Hercules Collin’s Catechism.
I’ve heard a lot of good about this book and I’ve also listened to Jeffery Johnson’s sermons/lectures on Covenant Theology especially the most recent with Pascal Denault. I’ve read his chapter in Recovering Covenantal A Heritage and listened to his sermon on the dual nature of the Abrahamic and Davidic covenants which helped me a lot. I was eager to get started on this book and see what I could learn more.
The Paedobaptist Positions
To start, he lays down all the division of Paedobaptism. He numbers 8 –
- Fides Aliena (Faith of Another) – the church supplies the faith necessary for the infant. Those who hold this position understand that faith is a necessary prerequisite for baptism. But this faith could not come from the infant, thus the Church supplies the faith that is necessary. Those who take this position also believe that baptism removes Adam’s guilt and “cleanses the heart of its inward depravity.” (p. 6, Augustine, Origen)
- Fides Infusa (Infused Faith) – Faith is given at the point of baptism. When the infant is baptism, they are also given faith in that act.
- Fides Infantium – Luther said “In baptism the infants themselves believe and have their own faith.” Luther was the proponent of justification by faith alone and thus for infants to be saved they had to believe. The faith of another could not do it for them. Faith is not transferable.
- Sacramental Symbolism – This is Ulrich Zwingli’s position which taught that water baptism had no bearing upon the Spirit’s internal work. It was merely an external sign and symbol. Unlike the Roman Catholics and Lutherans, Zwingli did not believe that water baptism administers faith.
- Pre-credobaptism – Baptism comes before the infant having faith. It does symbolize faith and union with Christ, but does not guarantee it. This is the Reformed Paedobaptist position. The Westminster says: “The efficacy of Baptism is not tied to that moment of time wherein it is administered; yet, notwithstanding, by the right use of this ordinance, the grace promised is not only offered, but really exhibited, and conferred, by the Holy Ghost, to such (whether of age or infants) as that grace belongs unto, according to the counsel of God's own will, in His appointed time.” (chapter 28, paragraph 6)
- Presumptive Regeneration – I’ve not had much interaction with the Dutch Reformed position here in Holland and I’ve heard only mischaracterizations of it, so I can’t say if this is the position of every church here (I live in the Netherlands). But through the influence of Abraham Kuyper, the church sought to bring baptism closer to faith. This position basically says that we believe that infants have faith and are ...
I purchased this book because I wanted to have a good biblical case for each doctrine that I was interested in looking at. At that time I was interested in learning more about God’s sovereignty.
I never thought that I’d read such a large book with 57 chapters of biblical doctrine, but I am thankful that God sustained me through the journey that I had with Wayne Grudem in biblical doctrine.
Why it’s awesome
A lot of reasons can be given why this Systematic Theology is great. It is the first Systematic Theology that I’ve picked up and I know for certain that I will go back to it many times.
In a certain sense Dr. Grudem’s job is simple, find the passages which speak of a particular doctrine and explain what they say. But it is the manner in which he cites and explains the passages that is encouraging. He always explains the contexts and I cannot think of a citation that is out of context. He lays out the context, explains what the passages means in context and it’s relevance to the present topic.
I love those fruitful footnotes. I would often skip footnotes thinking that they only refer to works cited, but that’s not the only thing that Dr. Grudem does in his footnotes. He often explains things more technical, makes a particular case for something, refers to a relevant topic in his Systematic Theology or engages with the other side.
His handling of the Holy Scriptures is truly aspiring. I pray that God would given me the same love for the Scriptures, that Dr. Grudem has. He does not simply assume things, he proves them biblically. That should be every Christian’s desire.
The two biggest reasons why it’s a great text is because, first it is thoroughly biblical. What I most loved is the fact that he produced the passages and not merely referenced them. He backs up every major statement he makes upon a doctrine.
Second, it is accessible and not only for “theologians.” It is easy to understand, he tries his best to explain things plainly, though there are obviously difficult doctrines which are not that easy to explain.
If you don’t have this great Systematic Theology, get it now.
Here I want to say a couple of things about Grudem’s major influence on my doctrine.
The Holy Scriptures
Dr Grudem is unashamed about his belief in God’s absolute and holy Word.
The Bible is God’s sole authoritative Word, His very speech (2Tim 3:16). God used holy men as His instruments and spoke through them, not ignoring or overriding their vocabularies and use of language (2Pet 1:20-21).
It is incapable of being wrong, because it comes from the God who is the Truth (Jn 14:6) and who cannot lie (Heb 6:18). The Word of God reflects the character and its integrity is based upon the character of God.
The Bible, which is the collection of 39 Old Testament books and 27 New Testament books is the very and certain Word of God.
Dean Davis - The High King of Heaven:
Discovering the Master Key to the Great End Time Debate
The subtitle indeed is a bold claim, saying that in this book we will discover “the master key” to the End Time debate. I believe we indeed do discover the master key to the End Time debate.
This book is nothing like the others that I’ve read on Amillennialism (Kingdom Come, The Bible and the Future, The Case for Amillennialism), it dares to go and try to interpret the difficult texts in support of premillennialism. It is anti-premillennial as well as, but in lesser tone against Postmillennialism. This is all done in a tone of brotherly love. I enjoyed that aspect of the interaction.
This book lays out the classic view of Amillennialism which is Dean Davis believes (as others also do) is the classic eschatology of Church History and the Reformation.
The word amillennialism means no millennium. However, amillennarians do not deny the existence of a millennium, only that it begins after the Parousia and that it will last for a literal thousand years. Instead, they teach that the thousand years of Revelation 20 symbolize the present Era of Proclamation, during which time Christ reigns with (the departed spirits of) his saints in heaven. Amillennarians are, then, “present-millennarians.” Pages 23-24
Basically, Amillennialism teaches that the Millennium of Revelation 20 started from the cross and will end at the Second Coming of our Lord, spanning over 2 millennia up till now and is thus to be interpreted symbolically, rather than literally. The Millennium is the Gospel Era, or as Dean likes to call it, the Era of Proclamation.
This is a simple chart laying out the Amillennial vision of Salvation History.
The Kingdom of God
One of the very ups of this book was the extensive study of the Kingdom of God in the New and Old Testaments. My understanding of the Kingdom of God was really expanded.
A Definition of the Kingdom of God
Dean Davis defines the Kingdom of God as:
In essence, the Kingdom of God is the direct reign of God the Father, through the Son, by the Spirit, over his redeemed creatures; creatures who have been rescued from every spiritual and physical enemy, and restored to every spiritual and physical friend that God planned for them in the beginning. Also, the Kingdom is the blessed realm that this redemptive reign creates, and over which it forever rules. Page 65.
This he does not merely assume, but ably goes to prove it from the Bible, here is a summary of his five points:
- The Kingdom is the direct reign of God the Father (Mt 6:10)
- The Kingdom is a sphere of wholeness and blessing (Mt 9:35; 10:7-8; 12:28)
- The Kingdom is mediated by the Son of God (John 5:19, 30; 6:38; 8:28; 12:49; 14:10)
- The Kingdom is effected by the Spirit of God (Mt 12:28; Acts 1:4-8)
- The Kingdom is a realm beneath a reign (Mt 13:41-42; Rev 11:15)
Thereby is indeed the definition ...
Chapter 32: Of the Last Judgment
Now we come to the last chapter of the Confession, which deals with the last day, particularly, the Last Judgment. Is there a Day of Judgment? How will we be judged? Will believers be judged? Will angels also be judged? What is the relation of works to the judgment? What is Hell? Is it never-ending torment or annihilation? Who is the one who torments? How is God’s glory manifested in Heaven and Hell?
§1 All Persons That Have Lived Upon The Earth Shall Appear Before The Tribunal Of Christ
- God hath appointed a day wherein he will judge the world in righteousness, by Jesus Christ; to whom all power and judgment is given of the Father; 1 in which day, not only the apostate angels shall be judged, 2 but likewise all persons that have lived upon the earth shall appear before the tribunal of Christ, 3 to give an account of their thoughts, words, and deeds, and to receive according to what they have done in the body, whether good or evil. 4
- John 5:22, 27; Acts 17:31
- 1 Cor. 6:3; Jude 6
- Matt. 16:27; 25:31-46; Acts 17:30-31; Rom. 2:6-16; 2 Thess. 1:5-10; 2 Peter 3:1-13; Rev. 20:11-15
- 2 Cor. 5:10, 1 Cor. 4:5, Matt. 12:36
God has determined and appointed a day wherein He will judge the world in righteousness, by Jesus Christ (Acts 17:30-31), Who has all power and judgment...given to Him by the Father (John 5:22). It is certain that this day will come because God has determined and appointed it. On this day, not only the apostate angels (Jude 6; 1 Cor. 6:3) but also all persons that have lived upon the earth shall appear before the tribunal of Christ (2 Cor. 5:10). Even Christians will have to appear before the tribunal of Christ. What is the reason for their appearance? It is to give an account of their thoughts, words, and deeds (Matt. 12:36) and to be rewarded according to what they have done...whether good or evil (e.g., Rev. 20:11-15). God will reward us or take rewards away according to the works which we have done in the body. All our good works have been washed away by the blood of Christ and rewarded by grace. But there will be some who will lose rewards because of their works. The wicked will be condemned by their works because they demonstrate their nature as fallen and wicked.
The Day of Judgment is not the day that will determine the destinies of men; their destinies were fixed at the time they died (Heb 9:27; see here). We deny the doctrine of soul-sleep, the righteous pass from this life into the Intermediate State in bliss, while the wicked go into misery upon their deaths. But what is then the difference between what the wicked and righteous experience now in the Intermediate State and what they will experience after the Day of Judgment? Well for one, they were already judged at death and their judgment was private (Heb 9:27), but the Day of Judgment is public in which the secrets of men will be disclosed. Second, the joy and also the misery of men in the Inte...
Chapter 31: Of the State of Man after Death and Of the Resurrection of the Dead
This chapter concerns itself with eschatology, which is the doctrine of the last things. It discusses questions concerning what happens after we die, the second coming of the Lord Jesus, and the resurrection of the just and unjust.
I hold to the Amillennial view of eschatology, therefore what is written here will reflect that eschatology. Basically, Amillennialism teaches that the thousand years of Revelation 20 are symbolic for the whole time between Christ’s Ascension and Second Coming. When He comes that will be the end of everything. The rapture, general resurrection and final judgment will take place, then God will usher in the World to Come. There are neither multiple resurrections nor multiple judgments. There are no 7 years of Great Tribulation. There are no two peoples of God, Israel and the Church. Rather, the Church is the Israel of God. The promises of restoration and blessing pertain not to the Fallen World, but to the World to Come. We do not believe that the Bible teaches a golden age on this Fallen Earth.
In paragraphs 2-3 there is a case for Amillennial eschatology and a critique of Premillennialism throughout the sections.
§1 The Intermediate State
- The bodies of men after death return to dust, and see corruption; 1 but their souls, which neither die nor sleep, having an immortal subsistence, immediately return to God who gave them. 2 The souls of the righteous being then made perfect in holiness, are received into paradise, where they are with Christ, and behold the face of God in light and glory, waiting for the full redemption of their bodies; 3 and the souls of the wicked are cast into hell; where they remain in torment and utter darkness, reserved to the judgment of the great day; 4 besides these two places, for souls separated from their bodies, the Scripture acknowledgeth none.
- Gen. 2:17; 3:19; Acts 13:36; Rom. 5:12-21; 1 Cor. 15:22
- Gen. 2:7; James 2:26; Matt. 10:28; Eccles. 12:7
- Ps. 23:6; 1 Kings 8:27-49; Isa. 63:15; 66:1; Luke 23:43; Acts 1:9-11; 3:21; 2 Cor. 5:6-8; 12:2-4; Eph. 4:10; Phil. 1:21-23; Heb. 1:3,4:14-15; 6:20; 8:1; 9:24; 12:23; Rev. 6:9-11; 14:13; 20:4-6
- Luke 16:22-26; Acts 1:25; 1 Peter 3:19; 2 Peter 2:9
The bodies of men after death return to dust (Gen. 3:19), the original substance, but their souls...having an immortal subsistence (i.e., a state of existence)...neither die nor sleep and immediately return to God (Eccles. 12:7). Our bodily death is not the cessation of our life. When our bodies die, our souls immediately return to God Who gave them. There is no period between our physical death and our returning to God. After our last breath, we immediately return to God. There is no period of waiting or soul sleep. But this returning to God of our souls does not mean we remain with God. Only the souls of the righteous now having been made perfect...are received into paradise, ...
Chapter 30: Of the Lord’s Supper
What is the Lord’s Supper? Are we obliged to observe it? What does it signify? What is the Roman Catholic view? What is the Reformed view? Why should the Roman Catholic view of Transubstantiation be rejected? Doesn’t Christ saying ‘this is my body’ mean that the bread and wine are Christ’s literal body and blood? How is the Lord’s Supper a means of grace? Who may partake of the Lord’s Supper?
This is, I believe, the most anti-Roman Catholic chapter in the Confession. This chapter provides a positive presentation of the Reformed view on the Lord’s Supper and rejects the repugnant doctrine of Transubstantiation. It is important for us to understand the different views on the Lord’s Supper. The most important of those different views is the Roman Catholic view of Transubstantiation. In this case, I will try to let Roman Catholics themselves explain to us their doctrine and then provide a biblical case of what the Lord’s Supper is and what it is not.
§1 The Supper Of The Lord Jesus
- The supper of the Lord Jesus was instituted by him the same night wherein he was betrayed, 1 to be observed in his churches, 2 unto the end of the world, 3 for the perpetual remembrance, and shewing forth the sacrifice of himself in his death, 4 confirmation of the faith of believers in all the benefits thereof, 5 their spiritual nourishment, and growth in him, 6 their further engagement in, and to all duties which they owe to him; 7 and to be a bond and pledge of their communion with him, and with each other. 8
- 1 Cor. 11:23-26; Matt. 26:20-29; Mark 14:17-25; Luke 22:14-23
- Acts 2:41-42; 20:7; 1 Cor. 11:17-22, 33-34
- Mark 14:24-25; Luke 22:17-22; 1 Cor. 11:24-26
- 1 Cor. 11:24-26; Matt. 26:27-28; Luke 22:19-20
- Rom. 4:11
- John 6:29, 35, 47-58
- 1 Cor. 11:25
- 1 Cor. 10:16-17
The supper of the Lord is a “positive and sovereign institution” (chapter 28:1) by the Lord Jesus Christ Himself. He commanded it to be observed in His churches, unto the end of the world (1 Cor. 11:26). Why did He command it to be observed? ...for the perpetual remembrance, and shewing forth the sacrifice of Himself in His death (1 Cor. 11:24-26). The Lord Supper signifies and shows forth the Lord’s suffering on our behalf, His body being broken for us and His blood being shed for our forgiveness. It is also given for the confirmation of the faith of believers to remind them of the sacrifice of Christ which is their only ground of hope and peace with God. It is for their spiritual nourishment, and growth in Him because the Lord comes very close to us as we partake of His supper and sit at His table. It reminds us also of all the duties which we owe to Him thanks to His sacrifice on our behalf. But it is also a bond and pledge of our communion with Him, and with each other. Since we are all in union with Christ and as we partake of His blood and body, we also partake and are united with each other as believers. Christ unites a...
Chapter 29: Of Baptism
What is baptism? What does it symbolize? Can I be saved without being baptized? Are professing believers alone to be baptized? What about infant baptism? What is the baptismal formula? How is baptism to be performed? Is it by sprinkling, pouring, or immersion?
Let me start with a personal testimony. I was born in Iraq to an Armenian (not Arminian) family. The church of the Armenian people is the Armenian Apostolic Church, which is an Orthodox church and it is very much similar to Roman Catholicism. Infants would be baptized around 40 days old or something around that time. That was not different in my case. Throughout my youth, I saw my infant baptism as the basis that I was a Christian. What made it also difficult was the fact that in Iraq, everyone would have their religion on their ID card. I even served as an altar boy in the church when I was little. But to be honest, I did not know the gospel, yet I was not ashamed to proclaim that I am Christian, but don’t ask me what the gospel is! Thus, throughout my youth, I saw my baptism as the ground that I am a Christian, even though I did not pray often or did not know why Christ died. The Armenian Church, by the way, believes in baptismal regeneration and baptism by dipping the infant thrice in a bowl of holy water. My family came to the Netherlands in 2008 and I finally knew what freedom was, but not the freedom of the gospel (yet). Two years or so after that, I met with an old friend and stayed with him for a few days. He saw that I did not pray before bed, so he questioned me. He told me about prayer and how proper is it to pray to God and thank Him for everything. I told him that I don’t want to be religious. He directed me to videos and episodes of Zakaria Botros (Arabic) who shares the gospel with Muslims via TV and exposes Islam. Through his videos and episodes, I came to know the true gospel and was saved by God’s grace. After that, there grew in me a desire to study His Word, so I bought Bibles and study Bibles and started reading the Scriptures daily. Around that time, I started attending a Baptist church. I did not know that it was a Baptist church. We went there with some friends of mine and by God’s grace, kept attending church on the Lord’s Day.
I started reading the Bible and I could not find anything about the baptism of infants or that baptism as the basis of my faith and all the things which I had simply assumed in my youth. So I set out to study this matter and came to the conclusion that infant baptism was unscriptural and what happened to me as an infant, was not biblical baptism. On a Saturday night, I fell on my knees and asked the Lord if He wanted me to be baptized that He would give me some sign. The next day, the Lord’s Day, the preacher talked about discipleship and following Christ no matter what and he said something like, “It doesn’t matter what your family will think of you if you want to be baptized”, which I saw ...
Chapter 28: Of Baptism and the Lord’s Supper
What does it mean that the ordinances are positive institution? What is the difference between the Reformed and Roman Catholic understanding of the sacraments? Who may administer the ordinances?
§1 Ordinances Of Positive And Sovereign Institution
- Baptism and the Lord’s Supper are ordinances of positive and sovereign institution, appointed by the Lord Jesus, the only lawgiver, 1 to be continued in his church to the end of the world. 2
- Matt. 28:19-20; 1 Cor. 11:24-25
- Matt. 28:18-20; Rom. 6:3-4; 1 Cor. 1:13-17; Gal. 3:27; Eph. 4:5; Col. 2:12; 1 Peter 3:21; 1 Cor. 11:26; Luke 22:14-20
Baptism and the Lord’s Supper are ordinances and commandments of positive and sovereign institution. They have been instituted and commanded by the Lord Jesus, the only lawgiver and are, therefore, to be obeyed and continued in His church to the end of the world (Matt. 28:19-20; 1 Cor. 11:26). What does it mean that the ordinances are of positive and sovereign institution? It means that Baptism and the Lord’s Supper are moral commandments which are added to the moral law already existing. They are not things which of themselves are moral, but they are moral because they have been instituted and appointed by the Lord Jesus. They are given to us as a law, which the Lord Jesus Christ, by His power and authority as Head, King and Lawgiver of the church has instituted. Finally, baptism and the Lord’s Supper are the only ordinances under the New Covenant which the Confession speaks about. Christ has given us only to ordinances which we ought to obey, not seven sacraments according to Roman Catholic teaching.
Baptism and the Lord’s Supper are two ordinances or sacraments which the Lord Jesus by sovereign authority instituted and commanded us to observe. Now, what does the word “positive” mean in the sentence “positive and sovereign institution”? Does it mean something that is happy and good, over against something negative and bad? No, that is not the contextual meaning of the word. Rather, by “positive institution” or “positive command,” the Confession means an institution or a command that is not inherently moral. A person who has not read the Bible or heard of the God of the Bible, still knows that murder is wrong and lying is bad. But, can it be argued that they know that not being baptized is sin and not partaking of the Lord’s Supper is sin? Obviously not. So, these things, just like the command of Genesis 2:16-17 in the Garden, are things which are not inherently moral, but become moral when God commands them. They are things that are good because commanded, in contrast to pure moral laws that are commanded because they are good. The Lord Christ, by His own power and authority, established two ordinances for the New Covenant people of God. But, what do we mean by ordinance or sacrament? A.H. Strong writes, “By the ordinances, we mean those outward rites which Christ has appoin...
Chapter 27: Of the Communion of Saints
What does it mean that we are in union with Christ? What are the benefits from being united with Christ? What are our obligations toward fellow believers?
§1 Union With Jesus Christ
- All saints that are united to Jesus Christ, 1 their head, by his Spirit, and faith, 2 although they are not made thereby one person with him, 3 have fellowship in his graces, sufferings, death, resurrection, and glory; 4 and, being united to one another in love, they have communion in each others gifts and graces, 5 and are obliged to the performance of such duties, public and private, in an orderly way, as do conduce to their mutual good, both in the inward and outward man. 6
- Eph. 1:4; John 17:2, 6; 2 Cor. 5:21; Rom. 6:8; 8:17; 8:2; 1 Cor. 6:17; 2 Peter 1:4
- Eph. 3:16-17; Gal. 2:20; 2 Cor. 3:17-18
- 1 Cor. 8:6; Col. 1:18-19; 1 Tim. 6:15-16; Isa. 42:8; Ps. 45:7; Heb. 1:8-9
- 1 John 1:3; John 1:16; 15:1-6; Eph.2:4-6; Rom. 4:25; 6:1-6; Phil. 3:10; Col. 3:3-4
- John 13:34-35; 14:15; Eph. 4:15; 1 Peter 4:10; Rom. 14:7-8; 1 Cor. 3:21-23; 12:7, 25-27
- Rom. 1:12; 12:10-13; 1 Thess. 5:11,14; 1 Peter 3:8; 1 John 3:17-18; Col. 6:10; Gal. 6:10
All saints...are united to Jesus Christ (e.g., Eph. 1:1, 4; Phil. 1:1; Col. 1:2). They are in Him and identified with Him. To be united to Jesus Christ means that they have fellowship in His graces, sufferings, death, resurrection, and glory (Rom. 6:1-6; Col. 3:3-4; 1 John 1:3). They are united with Him in these aspects. For example, in the case of His death and resurrection, it is as if we died and rose again with Him. We did not literally and physically die with Him, but since we have been united to our Head, whatever He does or did on our behalf is counted as our own. This union with Jesus Christ is by His Spirit, and faith (Eph. 3:16-17; 2 Cor. 3:17-18). There is no other way in which we can be united to Jesus Christ and experience the benefits of this union. In all of this, we do not become one person with Him. We still remain us and separate from Him, but we share in Him and are one with Him spiritually and by virtue of His headship.
This union to Jesus Christ goes beyond us and the Lord. In fact, after we have been united to the Lord, we are united one another in love (John 13:34-35; Eph. 4:15). Union with Christ does not only make us one with the Lord, but also it unites us to others who are one with the Lord. In the same way, we share and have communion in each other gifts and graces. We seek to serve each other and bless others with the gifts and graces which God has bestowed upon us. We are, in fact, obliged to the performance of such duties which conduce to our mutual good (Rom. 1:12; 12:10-13). This duty is public and private, and it does not only concern spiritual things (in the inward...man), but also physically providing for those lacking supply and in need of help materially (in the...outward man).
Defining Union with Christ
All the elec...
Chapter 26: Of the Church
What is the church? What is the visible and invisible church? Who is the head of the church? What power does the church have? What is church discipline? What offices are there in the church? What about church membership? What does an elder do and who can become an elder? What does a deacon do and who can become a deacon? What is the work of the pastor? How is a church to govern itself?
This is the longest chapter in the Confession. Without question, this chapter is different than the sister confessions. The doctrine of the church was and is one of the most important distinctions between paedobaptists and Baptists. Covenant Theology, as noted in chapter 7, is an important difference between our Reformed paedobaptist brethren and us, Reformed Baptists. Practically, 1689 Federalism manifests itself in the doctrine of the church. One of the primary distinctive of Baptist ecclesiology is regenerate membership. Furthermore, the distinction that only those baptized upon a profession of faith may be members of a local church. This distinction and difference must be placed in the light of the huge agreement concerning almost all other areas of the Confession. Our forefathers basically copy-pasted from the Congregationalists and Presbyterians. Alan Dunn observes the following on the historical setting of this chapter:
On the one hand, our Confession was written in an attempt to distinguish us from the false Roman Catholic Church. We will encounter statements in which Roman Catholic teaching is refuted. On the other hand, our Confession aligns us with churches that proclaim the gospel and worship Christ in obedient submission to Scripture.
Among such Biblically orthodox churches however, there are yet differences held with honest Biblical conviction. Therefore, our Confession also expresses our Baptistic and Reformed distinctives in contrast to our Presbyterian and non-Reformed brethren.
§1 The Universal Church Consists Of The Whole Number Of The Elect
- The catholic or universal church, 1 which (with respect to the internal work of the Spirit and truth of grace) may be called invisible, consists of the whole number of the elect, that have been, are, or shall be gathered into one, under Christ, the head thereof; and is the spouse, the body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all. 2
- Matt. 16:18; 1 Cor. 12:28; Eph. 1:22; 4:11-15; 5:23-25, 27, 29, 32; Col. 1:18, 24; Heb. 12:23
- Eph. 1:22; 4:11-15; 5:23-25, 27, 29, 32; Col 1:18, 24; Rev. 21:9-14
The catholic (meaning universal) church, which is called invisible, consists of the whole number of the elect (e.g., 1 Cor. 1:2; Heb. 12:23). The universal church does not consist only of New Covenant Christians, but of the whole number of the elect who have been, are, or shall be gathered into one, under Christ. Notice that the church consists of the elect who are gathered, i.e., converted. In their unregenerate state, the elect are not...
Chapter 25: Of Marriage
What is marriage? Between how many persons is it? Is it only between a man and a woman? For what purposes did God institute marriage? May Christians marry unbelievers? Who may we marry?
§1 Monogamy Between One Man and One Woman
- Marriage is to be between one man and one woman; neither is it lawful for any man to have more than one wife, nor for any woman to have more than one husband at the same time. 1
- Gen. 2:24 with Matt. 19:5-6;1 Tim. 3:2; Titus 1:6; Mal 2:15
Marriage is a life-long covenant between one man and one woman (Matt. 19:5-6) and only that. It is neither lawful for any man to have more than one wife, nor for any woman to have more than one husband at the same time. Monogamy is essential to marriage as defined by the Creator. The question of homosexuality, as it hot now, never crossed the minds of the framers of the Confession as it was obvious that the Bible was against it.
Marriage is a life-long covenant between a man and a woman wherein God is a witness (Mal. 2:15). It is a life-long vow (see chapter 23 on oaths and vows). In marriage, the man and the woman call upon God as a witness to the vows that they make to each other and bind themselves by the vow, in presence of God, to be faithful to each other. Marriage was instituted by God in the Garden, before the Fall on day six. The Lord wanted to find for Adam a mate, so He brought to him all the animals, yet “for Adam there was not found a helper fit for him” (Gen. 2:20). Therefore, the LORD put Adam to sleep and made a woman from his side. The Lord created a human with the same nature as Adam’s, yet, different character and with different parts which complement each other. Then we read:
Gen. 2:22 And the rib that the LORD God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man.
Herein we have the institution of marriage. Adam had finally found someone like him and yet, at the same time, not exactly like him. The mate of Adam was to be “a helper fit for him” (Gen. 2:18, 20). She was to help and assist Adam, completing him. The various translations of this phrase all communicate the idea that Eve was not inferior in being to Adam, but was created to compliment him and complete him. In a sense, Adam was not yet whole without Eve. Verse 20 is translated as follows:
|ESV||a helper fit for him|
|ISV||companion corresponding to him|
|NET||companion who corresponded to him|
|NASB||a helper suitable for him|
|LXXE||a help like to himself|
|HCSB||helper...as his complement|
|KJV||an help meet for him|
|YLT||an helper -- as his counterpart|
Adam and Eve were equal in nature, value, and being. Adam was not superior in being or value to Eve. But authority was given to Adam even before the Fall over Eve, yet this authority was not because Adam was superior in being. Albert Barnes notes on this phrase that it meant “an equal, a companion, a...
Chapter 24: Of the Civil Magistrate
Politics is not my thing. But I do not doubt that is an important aspect of our lives on earth. I’m not versed in political theories and things. I usually keep a distance. This is a subject that I’ve not studied in any considerable length. But I agree with Dr. Samuel Waldron that the sovereignty of God extends itself over all things, including politics and His people should influence those in high positions. Also, “To restrict Christianity to the ‘spiritual’ realm is, ultimately, to destroy it.”
In this chapter, we will concern ourselves with the civil government as ordained by God, its purpose, and power. We will take a look at Romans 13 to see what it teaches about the civil government? Must we obey the government in all things? May Christians work in the government?
§1 God Hath Ordained Civil Magistrates To Be Under Him, Over The People
- God, the supreme Lord and King of all the world, hath ordained civil magistrates to be under him, over the people, 1 for his own glory and the public good; 2 and to this end hath armed them with the power of the sword, for defence and encouragement of them that do good, and for the punishment of evil doers. 3
- Ps. 82:1; Luke 12:48; Rom. 13:1-6; 1 Peter 2:13-14
- Gen. 6:11-13 with 9:5-6; Ps. 58:1-2; 72:14; 82:1-4; Prov. 21:15; 24:11-12; 29:14,26; 31:5; Ezek. 7:23; 45:9; Dan. 4:27; Matt. 22:21; Rom. 13:3-4; 1 Tim. 2:2; 1 Peter 2:14
- Gen. 9:6; Prov. 16:14; 19:12; 20:2; 21:15; 28:17; Acts 25:11; Rom. 13:4; 1 Peter 2:14
God as the supreme Lord and King of all the world has ordained civil magistrates or the government to be under Him (Rom. 13:1-6). The government is subject to God and derives its authority to rule from God. The civil magistrates are over the people. They have authority over the people because they received that authority from God. This way of governing, God has chosen for his own glory and the public good. God’s glory is the proper end of everything that He does so likewise in ordaining civil magistrates. What is the purpose of the civil magistrates? The civil magistrates are ordained and called for defence and encouragement of them that do good (1 Peter 2:14). A good government should defend those who are doing good and protect them. Furthermore, a good government should encourage the doing of good for the betterment of society and the glory of God. But civil magistrates are also armed...with the power of the sword...for the punishment of evil doers (Rom. 13:4; 1 Peter 2:14). A good government should defend itself and defend those who do good, in necessary, by using the God-given power of the sword. Likewise, in punishing the evildoers, the power of the sword may be used when it is necessary. God has given it to the government to be used justly.
Subject To God
There are two things which are first of all asserted: 1) God is the supreme Lord, and 2) civil governments are to be subject to Him. That God is the suprem...
Chapter 23: Of Lawful Oaths and Vows
What does the Bible say about oaths and vows? Doesn’t the Bible mention them a lot? What about when Christ said that we should not swear? What is the difference between an oath and a vow?
This chapter should be viewed in the context of the Anabaptists who refused oaths based on their understanding of Matthew 5:33-37. The Anabaptist Mennonite Network writes:
Many [Anabaptists] refused to swear oaths. Oaths were very important in sixteenth-century Europe, encouraging truth-telling in court and loyalty to the state. Anabaptists often rejected these, citing Jesus’ teaching in Matthew 5 and arguing that they should always be truthful, not just under oath. Nor would they swear loyalty to any secular authority.
An example of the Anabaptist stance on oaths and vows comes from their own mounts. The Schleitheim Confession of Faith comes from 1527 and was written by Michael Sattler in Germany. J. C. Wenger, a translator of the confession, explains:
The Schleitheim Confession was widely circulated. Ulrich Zwingli translated it into Latin and attempted to refute it already in 1527. It was in print in its original German form as early as 1533. John Calvin used a now-lost French translation of the Seven Articles in his refutation of Anabaptism published in 1544.
All this means is that it is a very good representative of Anabaptist teaching. Therefore, it is also representative of what it says on vows and oaths:
Seventh. We are agreed as follows concerning the oath: The oath is a confirmation among those who are quarreling or making promises. In the Law it is commanded to be performed in God’s Name, but only in truth, not falsely. Christ, who teaches the perfection of the Law, prohibits all swearing to His [followers], whether true or false, -- neither by heaven, nor by the earth, nor by Jerusalem, nor by our head, -- and that for the reason which He shortly thereafter gives, For you are not able to make one hair white or black. So you see it is for this reason that all swearing is forbidden: we cannot fulfill that which we promise when we swear, for we cannot change [even] the very least thing on us.
The seventh and last article goes on to answer some common objections made against the first statement. A century later (1632), the Dutch Mennonites still confessed the same of what was said by Sattler:
XV. Of the Swearing of Oaths
Concerning the swearing of oaths we believe and confess that the Lord Christ has set aside and forbidden the same to His disciples, that they should not swear at all, but that yea should be yea, and nay, nay; from which we understand that all oaths, high and low, are forbidden, and that instead of them we are to confirm all our promises and obligations, yea, all our declarations and testimonies of any matter, only with our word yea, in that which is yea, and with nay, in that which is nay; yet, that we must always, in all matters, and with everyo...
Chapter 22: Of Religious Worship and the Sabbath Day
How are we to worship God? What is the Regulative Principle? Is it taught in the Scriptures? What are the elements of worship? What are circumstances? Are we only to sing the Psalms? Can we use musical instruments in public worship?
Is there a specific day of worship? What is the Sabbath? Which day is it? When was it first instituted? How is it that Sunday is the Christian Sabbath? Where does Scripture teach the change of the day? What about Romans 14:5-6; Galatians 4:9-11; Colossians 2:16-17? Don’t these passages teach the abrogation of the Sabbath? How is the Sabbath to be kept?
§1 The Regulative Principle Of Worship
- The light of nature shews that there is a God, who hath lordship and sovereignty over all; is just, good and doth good unto all; and is therefore to be feared, loved, praised, called upon, trusted in, and served, with all the heart and all the soul, and with all the might. 1 But the acceptable way of worshipping the true God, is instituted by himself, and so limited by his own revealed will, that he may not be worshipped according to the imagination and devices of men, nor the suggestions of Satan, under any visible representations, or any other way not prescribed in the Holy Scriptures. 2
- Jer. 10:7; Mark 12:33
- Gen. 4:1-5; Exod. 20:4-6; Matt. 15:3, 8-9; 2 Kings 16:10-18; Lev. 10:1-3; Deut. 17:3; 4:2; 12:29-32; Josh. 1:7; 23:6-8; Matt. 15:13; Col. 2:20-23; 2 Tim. 3:15-17
The light of nature or natural revelation as we call it shows that there is a God, Who hath lordship and sovereignty over all (Rom. 1:19-23). That there is a God, no one will be able to deny when they stand before God. Both creation and the Creator testify to God. This is basic Romans 1. Furthermore, this God is just, good and doth good unto all (Ps. 145:9) as evidenced by the things which we have and receive. Therefore, He is to be worshiped and served with the whole of our being. Yet He is not to be worshiped as we like. But the acceptable way of worshipping the true God, is instituted by Himself (Ex. 20:4-6; Deut. 4:2; 12:29-32). It is God Who determines how He is to be worshiped. This acceptable way is limited by His revealed will, i.e., Holy Scripture. The unacceptable way of worshipping God as according to the imagination and devices of men (Acts 17:29; Col. 2:23), the suggestions of Satan, visible representations (Ex. 20:4-6) and any other way not prescribed in the Holy Scriptures (Lev. 10:1-3) is abominable to God and He is not pleased with it. God is not to be worshiped as we think He would like to be worship. Why should we think of ways of worshipping Him when He has revealed how He desires to be worshiped? Neither is He to be worshiped through or by any visible representations. This excludes all images and statues of the persons of the Godhead as well as the saints who according to Roman Catholic theology can act as intercessors between us and God/Jesus. ...
Chapter 21: Of Christian Liberty and Liberty of Conscience
Are Christians free? How are Christians free? What does this liberty consist of? Are we free to sin?
- The liberty which Christ hath purchased for believers under the gospel, consists in their freedom from the guilt of sin, the condemning wrath of God, the rigour and curse of the law, 1 and in their being delivered from this present evil world, bondage to Satan, and dominion of sin, 2 from the evil of afflictions, the fear and sting of death, the victory of the grave, and everlasting damnation: 3 as also in their free access to God, and their yielding obedience unto Him, not out of slavish fear, but a child-like love and willing mind. 4
All which were common also to believers under the law for the substance of them; 5 but under the New Testament the liberty of Christians is further enlarged, in their freedom from the yoke of a ceremonial law, to which the Jewish church was subjected, and in greater boldness of access to the throne of grace, and in fuller communications of the free Spirit of God, than believers under the law did ordinarily partake of. 6
- John 3:36; Rom. 8:33; Gal. 3:13
- Gal. 1:4; Eph. 2:1-3; Col. 1:13; Acts 26:18; Rom. 6:14-18; 8:3
- Rom. 8:28; 1 Cor. 15:54-57; 1 Thess. 1:10; Heb. 2:14-15
- Eph. 2:18; 3:12; Rom. 8:15; 1 John 4:18
- John 8:32; Ps. 19:7-9; 119:14, 24, 45, 47, 48, 72, 97; Rom. 4:5-11; Gal. 3:9; Heb. 11:27, 33-34
- John 1:17; Heb. 1:1-2a;7:19, 22; 8:6, 9:23, 11:40; Gal. 2:11f.; 4:1-3; Col. 2:16-17; Heb. 10:19-21; John 7:38-39
The freedom and liberty which Christ hath purchased for believers under the gospel consists in the freedom from the dominion of sin, the punishment for sin and the free access (Eph. 2:18; 3:12), which we received through Christ, to God. Furthermore, our obedience to God and His commandments is not out of slavish fear (1John 4:18), but a child-like love and willing mind (Rom. 8:14-15). We obey because we love our Father and not because we are afraid of how He might punish us. In our obedience there is reverence, but no fear of punishment or condemnation. All these things were common also to believers under the law although those living under the law were still under the yoke of a ceremonial law (e.g. Col. 2:16-17), which believers under the New Testament are not. With the doing away of the ceremonial law, we have a greater boldness of access to the throne of grace (Heb. 4:16) now that we know what Christ has accomplished and what it means for us. The Spirit of God is more fully communicated to us with His gifts and graces than believers under the law did ordinarily partake of (John 7:38-39). There are no believers without the Holy Spirit, but under the New Testament, there is a fuller communication of the free Spirit of God.
The Children Of God Are Freed From
Oh, brothers and sisters, how thankful should we be to our Lord for...
Chapter 20: Of the Gospel, and of the 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.
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/general revelation, but general revelation is not enough for salvation. General revelation 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 general revelation.
§1 God was pleased to give forth the promise of Christ
- 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
- 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
The covenant of works that was 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 all 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 o...
Chapter 19: Of the Law of God
What is the relationship between the Christian and the Law? Do we have to obey the Law? What is the threefold division of the law? Are we saved by the Law? What are the threefold uses of the Law? What is the moral law and is it binding on all people? What are the Ten Commandments? Were the Ten Commandments known before Sinai? What is the relationship between the believer and the Ten Commandments? What is the doctrine of the Law and the gospel?
There is a lot of work to be done in this chapter and I think that this is a crucial chapter, one that I want to study myself. I do believe what is confessed here, but I do also want to be able to make a biblical case for it. The case that I will lay down is obviously convincing to me, I will not be able to address every objection that may come up. What I want to lay down here is the binding authority and nature of the Decalogue on all people, whether saved or unsaved; what the relationship of the Christian is to the Law and such questions.
Defining Our Terms
The Natural Law is the Law of God as revealed in creation and which man knows by virtue of the fact that he’s a creature made in the image of God (see here on the image of God). Natural Law may be discovered by reason and innate knowledge. The Reformed Baptist theologian Richard Barcellos writes the following concerning the substance and form of the Moral Law:
Protestant Scholasticism taught that the Decalogue summarily contains the Moral Law and is the inscripturated form of the natural law, as to its substance. A distinction was made between substance and form. Substance is one; form (and function) may vary. For example, when the Westminster Larger Catechism Q. 98 says, “The moral law is summarily comprehended in the ten commandments,” it refers to the fact that the substance (i.e., the underlying essence) of the Moral Law is assumed and articulated in the propositions of the Decalogue as contained in Exodus 20 and Deuteronomy 5. The form (and function) fits the redemptive-historical circumstances in which it was given. The substance, or underlying principles, are always relevant and applicable to man because he is created in the image of God. The application may shift based on redemptive-historical changes, such as the inauguration of the New Covenant, but its substance and utility never changes.
The Moral Law, on the other hand, is the Law which is revealed and summarized by God in the Ten Commandments, the Decalogue, which is the substance of the Natural Law. Richard Muller is quoted in Barcellos on the definition of the Moral Law, saying:
specifically and predominantly, the Decalogus, or Ten Commandments; also called the lex Mosaica …, as distinct from the lex ceremonialis …and the lex civilis, or civil law. The lex moralis, which is primarily intended to regulate morals, is known to the synderesis [the innate habit of understanding basic...
Chapter 18: Of the Assurance of Grace and Salvation
In many ways, this chapter depends on the previous chapter about the Perseverance of the Saints and we concluded in the previous chapter that the doctrine is indeed biblical. If eternal security is biblical for those who are regenerate and have true faith, may we conclude that God is willing that they have the assurance of salvation and have confidence that they will be with God forever? The answer of this chapter is “yes.” The majority of texts for the doctrine of perseverance, at the same time, are texts about the assurance that we are called to have in Scripture, therefore, I will reference the exegesis of the relevant texts in the previous chapter.
§1 Although temporary believers, and other unregenerate men, may vainly deceive themselves
- Although temporary believers, and other unregenerate men, may vainly deceive themselves with false hopes and carnal presumptions of being in the favour of God and state of salvation, which hope of theirs shall perish; 1 yet such as truly believe in the Lord Jesus, and love him in sincerity, endeavouring to walk in all good conscience before him, may in this life be certainly assured that they are in the state of grace, and may rejoice in the hope of the glory of God, which hope shall never make them ashamed. 2
- Job 8:13, 14; Jer. 17:9; Matt. 7:21-23; Luke 18:10-14; John 8:41; Eph. 5:6-7; Gal. 6:3, 7-9
- Rom. 5:2, 5; 8:16; 1 John 2:3; 3:14, 18-19, 24; 5:13; 2 Peter 1:10
Chapter 14 on faith also talks about temporary believers (chapter 14:3), but this time the Confession speaks about them in connection with assurance. As their faith was false and carnal, so their assurance is likewise false. They vainly deceive themselves with false hopes and carnal presumptions (John 8:41; Gal. 6:3, 7-9). This is the greatest self-deception and most terrifying thing, namely, to think that you are in right-standing with God, but in truth, you are not. This is a perishable hope.
But there is true hope and a true assurance. This is for them that truly believe in the Lord Jesus, and love Him in sincerity. They are described as those endeavouring to walk in all good conscience before Him (Rom. 7:24-25). They desire and try to walk uprightly before God. They are not they that deceive themselves with false hopes, but seek to obey and please God from the heart. These may in this life be certainly assured that they are in the state of grace (1 John 5:13). How beautiful is the phrase certainly assured! We may have certainty and assurance of our being in the state of grace and at peace with God. Those who truly believe in the Lord Jesus, and love Him in sincerity...may rejoice in the hope of the glory of God (Rom. 5:2). This is nothing like the false hopes which the unregenerate entertain, but it is a hope which shall never make them ashamed (Rom. 5:5).
The Confession starts first with a word of warning, namely, a war...
Chapter 17: Of The Perseverance of the Saints
What do we mean by the Perseverance of the Saints? Does it matter what we do? Are we to be passive and do nothing? What passages support the doctrine of Perseverance? What about passages that speak of falling away and Hebrews 6?
Wayne Grudem defines the perseverance of the saints in this way:
The perseverance of the saints means that all those who are truly born again will be kept by God’s power and will persevere as Christians until the end of their lives, and that only those who persevere until the end have been truly born again.
In this chapter, I want to mainly do two things: first, argue for the P in the TULIP, the Perseverance of the Saints; and second, examine some passages which are often brought up against the doctrine.
§1 Can neither totally nor finally fall from the state of grace
- Those whom God hath accepted in the beloved, effectually called and sanctified by his Spirit, and given the precious faith of his elect unto, can neither totally nor finally fall from the state of grace, but shall certainly persevere therein to the end, and be eternally saved, seeing the gifts and callings of God are without repentance, whence he still begets and nourisheth in them faith, repentance, love, joy, hope, and all the graces of the Spirit unto immortality; 1 and though many storms and floods arise and beat against them, yet they shall never be able to take them off that foundation and rock which by faith they are fastened upon; notwithstanding, through unbelief and the temptations of Satan, the sensible sight of the light and love of God may for a time be clouded and obscured from them, 2 yet he is still the same, and they shall be sure to be kept by the power of God unto salvation, where they shall enjoy their purchased possession, they being engraven upon the palm of his hands, and their names having been written in the book of life from all eternity. 3
- John 10:28-29; Phil. 1:6; 2 Tim. 2:19; 2 Peter 1:5-10; 1 John 2:19
- Ps. 89:31-32; 1 Cor. 11:32; 2 Tim. 4:7
- Ps. 102:27; Mal. 3:6; Eph. 1:14; 1 Peter 1:5; Rev. 13:8
Those whom God hath accepted (chapter 11), effectually called (chapter 10), sanctified by His Spirit (chapter 13) and given the precious faith of His elect (chapter 14), can neither totally nor finally fall from the state of grace (e.g., John 10:28-29; 1 John 2:19). If we follow what was said in the previous chapters, as this paragraph begins by enlisting these things, we cannot but expect such a declaration. If God is absolutely sovereign over all things (chapters 3 and 5), even electing, calling, justifying, adopting (chapter 12) and sanctifying us, how can it be that God could fail in His purpose and we be lost to eternal perdition? It cannot. The elect will certainly persevere in the state of grace...to the end. This is the essential difference between true and false faith. True faith perseveres to the end (1 John 2:19). This is be...
Chapter 16: Of Good Works
What is a “good work”? In our world of today, many would call that which is against the Word “good.” What does “good” mean and what is the standard to measure “good” by?
§1 Good works are only such as God hath commanded in his Holy Word
- Good works are only such as God hath commanded in his Holy Word, 1 and not such as without the warrant thereof are devised by men out of blind zeal, or upon any pretence of good intentions. 2
- Micah 6:8; Rom. 12:2; Heb. 13:21; Col. 2:3; 2 Tim. 3:16-17
- Matt. 15:9 with Isa. 29:13; 1 Peter 1:18; Rom. 10:2; John 16:2; 1 Sam. 15:21-23; 1 Cor. 7:23; Gal. 5:1; Col. 2:8, 16-23
Good works are those which God hath commanded in His Holy Word and those derived from it by necessary and good consequence. Those are no good works which have no warrant from the Word and devised by men out of blind zeal, or upon any pretence of good intentions (Matt. 15:9; 1 Peter 1:18; Rom. 10:2). God is to be worshiped and obeyed in the way that He has commanded and prescribed in His Word.
The Criteria For Good Works
We don’t simply invent for ourselves what good works are and declare that they are good, but rather it is God Who lays down the criteria for good works in Holy Writ. This does not mean that if a particular action is not mentioned in the Bible that it is therefore bad, but we look at the particular deed in light of all Scripture. We don’t demand an explicit text for everything. For example, helping an old lady cross the street is a good deed, but it is not mentioned in the Bible. Does that mean that it is therefore bad if it is not mentioned? No, not really. Because we know from the Bible that we should love our neighbor, and helping an old lady cross the street is such an expression of love and respect.
Commanded By God
Only what is commanded by God and what may be deduced from Holy Writ is binding upon the consciousness of men. Throughout history, various churches and religions have added to the commandments of God in such a way as binding the consciences of man. The Lord Jesus quotes the words of Isaiah approvingly when he says, “‘This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men’” (Matt. 15:8-9 from Isa. 29:13). From this passage, we learn that whenever we add things to the Lord’s commandments and teach them as if they were the Lord’s, we dishonor Him and worship Him falsely. Therefore, the Confession is explicit that “Good works are only such as God hath commanded in his Holy Word”, so that only God would be the Lord of the conscience (see also chapter 21 on the liberty of the conscious).
It is God Who teaches us through His will “what is good and acceptable and perfect” (Rom. 12:2). And it is God Who is and determines the criteria of what good works constitute. It is His holy character as revealed in His Word. It is also God Who works in us His good works. ...
Chapter 15: Of Repentance Unto Life and Salvation
In this chapter, we will consider what repentance actually is. Is repentance a gift? Do we repent only when we become Christians? Does repentance always accompany faith? Is repentance necessary for salvation?
I find the division of the paragraphs a bit unhelpful. The Confession speaks of those who are aged repenting unto life (par. 1), Christians repenting of their sins (par. 2) and defines what repentance actually is in paragraph 3. It seems to me that it would have been more natural to begin by defining what repentance actually is and then proceeding with what are now paragraphs 1 and 2. Therefore, I will begin here by giving a definition of what repentance is and then I will try to defend that definition biblically in paragraph 3. Wayne Grudem says that:
Repentance is a heartfelt sorrow for sin, a renouncing of it, and a sincere commitment to forsake it and walk in obedience to Christ.
Thus, repentance is not only a sorrow for our sins against God, it is not only us being sorry for doing what we did, but it the commitment to forsake our sins and instead obey Christ the Lord. But more on this in paragraph 3.
That the Baptist Confession depends and copies from the Savoy Declaration of 1658 can very clearly be seen especially in this chapter, which is wholly different in the Westminster, but almost identical in the Savoy. See the comparison here.
§1 God in their effectual calling giveth them repentance unto life
- Such of the elect as are converted at riper years, having sometime lived in the state of nature, 1 and therein served divers lusts and pleasures, God in their effectual calling giveth them repentance unto life. 2
- Titus 3:2-5
- 2 Chron. 33:10-20; Acts 9:1-19; 16:29-30
The Confession begins by noting that some of the elect...are converted at riper years. This means that they have sometime lived in the state of nature and therein served divers lusts and pleasures (e.g. Saul in Acts 9; the Philippian jailer in Acts 16:29-30; Zacchaeus in Luke 19:1-10). The nature of their repentance may be different than those who have not been given so much time to live in the state of nature and sin. In other words, not everyone has to have a radical conversion or repentance. But everyone is to repent of their sins and turn to God. It is God Who giveth them repentance unto life. Repentance, like faith (chapters 11:1; 14:1), is a gift of God and the work of the Holy Spirit in the hearts of the elect.
In this paragraph, the Confession is speaking about the repentance of those who have lived manifestly wicked lives. The words of Dr. Waldron here are especially helpful:
The Confession makes this distinction out of a desire to distinguish repentance as a crisis experience from repentance as an ordinary grace. All believers are marked by the ordinary grace, but not all believers will know, or need to know, repentance as a crisis experience.
In this ch...
Chapter 14: Of Saving Faith
What is faith? Is it simply believing something without any and contrary to evidence? Is it wishful thinking? Dr. Wayne Grudem defines faith as:
Trust or dependence on God based on the fact that we take him at his word and believe what he has said.
The Confession, in chapter 11 paragraph 2, defines faith as:
Faith thus receiving and resting on Christ and his righteousness, is the alone instrument of justification...
In this chapter, we will look at different aspects and things related to faith, such as: What is faith? What kinds of faith are there? Can our faith be strengthened? Is our faith a gift of grace? What is included in the nature of faith? What are the object, effects, ground, elements of faith? We will mind ourselves with such questions.
The formulations of the Confession in this chapter are not exactly ordered in the way that systematic theologies talk about faith. Although I would like to deal with many aspects of faith and not merely the ones directly mentioned. So, there will be quite some sending forth and back between the paragraphs and different chapters in the Confession where different things are dealt with. I pray that this may be a blessing to the church of Christ and for the strengthening of our personal faith.
§1 The grace of faith, whereby the elect are enabled to believe to the saving of their souls, is the work of the Spirit
- The grace of faith, whereby the elect are enabled to believe to the saving of their souls, is the work of the Spirit of Christ in their hearts, and is ordinarily wrought by the ministry of the Word; 1 by which also, and by the administration of baptism and the Lord’s supper, prayer, and other means appointed of God, it is increased and strengthened. 2
- John 6:37, 44; Acts 11:21, 24; 13:48; 14:27; 15:9; 2 Cor. 4:13; Eph. 2:8; Phil. 1:29; 2 Thess. 2:13; 1 Peter 1:2
- Rom 4:11; 10:14, 17; Luke 17:5; Acts 20:32; 1 Peter 2:2
Faith is a grace that’s why the Confession specifically speaks about the grace of faith (Eph. 2:8-9). Our faith is a gift from God (chapter 11:1). This faith is said to be that whereby the elect are enabled to believe to the saving of their souls—it is the sole instrument of justification (chapter 11:2). Furthermore, this grace of faith...is the work of the Spirit of Christ (John 6:63; Ezek. 36:25-27). Faith is our response to the call of God, but it does not originate with us. It is granted to us by God and it is worked in us by the Holy Spirit through regeneration and the creation of the new man in Christ. It is ordinarily wrought by the ministry of the Word (2 Thess. 2:13; 1 Pet. 1:23), i.e., by the preaching of the gospel coupled with the work of the Spirit of Christ. This faith is further strengthened by the means of grace. These are the gospel ordinances, baptism and the Lord’s Supper. But also prayer, Bible reading and study, the communion of the saints and other things prescribed and comm...
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 what Scripture says about it.
§1 Through The Virtue Of Christ’s Death And Resurrection, Are Also Farther Sanctified, Really And Personally
- 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, 1 are also farther sanctified, really and personally, 2 through the same virtue, 3 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
- 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 Thess. 5:23; Rom. 6:19, 22
- 1 Cor. 6:11; Acts 20:32; Phil. 3:10; Rom. 6:5-6
- John 17:17, Eph. 5:26; 3:16-19; Rom. 8:13
- 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
- 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 (1 Thess. 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 made 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....
Chapter 12: Of Adoption
In this chapter, we will try to find what the Bible says about us being the children of God. What does it mean to be children of God and how do we become children of God? These are the questions that we will try to answer.
§1 Make partakers of the grace of adoption
- All those that are justified, 1 God vouchsafed, 2 in and for the sake of his only Son Jesus Christ, 3 to make partakers of the grace of adoption, by which they are taken into the number, and enjoy the liberties and privileges of the children of God, have his name put upon them, 4 receive the spirit of adoption, have access to the throne of grace with boldness, are enabled to cry Abba, Father, 5 are pitied, protected, provided for, and chastened by him as by a Father, yet never cast off, but sealed to the day of redemption, 6 and inherit the promises as heirs of everlasting salvation.7
- Gal. 3:24-26
- 1 John 3:1-3
- Eph. 1:5; Gal. 4:4-5; Rom 8:17, 29
- Rom. 8:17; John 1:12; 2 Cor. 6:18; Rev. 3:12
- Rom. 8:15; Eph. 3:12; Rom. 5:2; Gal. 4:6; Eph. 2:18
- Ps. 103:13; Prov. 14:26; Matt. 6:30, 32; 1 Peter 5:7; Heb. 12:6; Isa. 54:8-9; Lam. 3:31; Eph. 4:30
- Rom. 8:17; Heb. 1:14; 9:15
God has vouchsafed, i.e., granted, all of them that are justified...in and for the sake of His only Son Jesus Christ, to make partakers of the grace of adoption (Eph. 1:5; Gal. 3:24-26; John 1:12-13). No justified person misses this grace of adoption. Their adoption, as well as their election (chapter 3:5), having the blessings of redemption (chapter 8:8), effectual calling and regeneration (chapter 10:2), justification (chapter 11:3), were not based in themselves. The absolute and free grace of God dominates all of the Christian life. Because we are in...His Only Son Jesus Christ, we are likewise counted as sons (Gal. 3:26-29; 4:4-5). And for the sake of His Only Son and the work He accomplished upon the cross, whereby He purchased our redemption with all of its blessings, we are adopted as sons of God. By this grace of adoption, we are to enjoy the liberties and privileges of the children of God (John 1:12-13). We are freed from sin and are able to willingly please God. We are privileged as children of God and of having God as our Father. The Confession then goes on to list the privileges which the children of God have.
They have His name put upon them (Rev. 3:12), meaning that they belong to Him. He is their owner. He is their Father and Master. They receive the spirit of adoption (Rom. 8:15), Who is the Holy Spirit of God. The Spirit testifies with our spirit about our identity as children of God (Rom. 8:14-17). As children, we have access to the throne of grace with boldness (Heb. 4:16), because God is our Abba, Father. A child should not be afraid to approach their father. So likewise, we, as children of the Father, we may go to the throne of grace with boldness! We, by the fatherly care of God, are pitied, protected, provided for, and ch...
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
- Those whom God effectually calleth, he also freely justifieth, 1 not by infusing righteousness into them, but by pardoning their sins, and by accounting and accepting their persons as righteous; 2 not for anything wrought in them, or done by them, but for Christ’s sake alone; 3 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
- Rom. 8:30; 3:24
- Rom. 4:5-8; Eph. 1:7
- 1 Cor. 1:30-31; Rom. 5:17-19
- 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 poi...
Chapter 10: Of Effectual Calling
This entire chapter is about the Calvinistic doctrine that has been called Irresistible Grace. Unfortunately, that has been misunderstood to mean that men never disobey and resist God, but that is not how the phrase has been historically defined. Rather, it means that the resistance which natural man always has to the Spirit (Acts 7:51) is overcome when God decides to save a person.
The material in this chapter has a connection with what we have already dealt with. There would be no effectual calling if there was no predestination, so that should be kept in mind. Predestination is dealt with in chapter 3, so I will not make a case for predestination here, but will take it for granted.
§1 Those whom God hath predestinated unto life, he is pleased in his appointed, and accepted time, effectually to call
- Those whom God 1 hath predestinated unto life, 2 he is pleased in his appointed, and accepted time, 3 effectually to call, 4 by his Word 5 and Spirit, 6 out of that state of sin and death in which they are by nature, to grace and salvation by Jesus Christ; 7 enlightening their minds spiritually and savingly to understand the things of God; 8 taking away their heart of stone, and giving unto them a heart of flesh; 9 renewing their wills, and by his almighty power determining them to that which is good, and effectually drawing them to Jesus Christ; 10 yet so as they come most freely, being made willing by his grace. 11
- Rom. 8:28-29
- Rom. 8:29-30; 9:22-24; 1 Cor. 1:26-28; 2 Thess. 2:13-14; 2 Tim. 1:9
- John 3:8; Eph. 1:11
- Matt. 22:14; 1 Cor. 1:23-24; Rom. 1:6; 8:28; Jude 1; John 5:25; Rom. 4:17
- 2 Thess. 2:14; 1 Peter 1:23-25; James 1:17-25; 1 John 5:1-5; Rom. 1:16-17; 10:14; Heb. 4:12
- John 3:3, 5-6, 8; 2 Cor. 3:3, 6
- Rom. 8:2; 1 Cor. 1:9; Eph. 2:1-6; 2 Tim. 1:9-10
- Acts 26:18; 1 Cor. 2:10, 12; Eph. 1:17-18
- Ezek. 36:26; Jer. 31:33
- Deut. 30:6; Ezek. 36:27; John 6:44-45; Eph. 1:19; Phil. 2:13
- Ps. 110:3; John 6:37; Rom. 6:16-18
Those whom God hath predestinated unto life, He, in His appointed and accepted time, effectually calls to Himself by His Word and Spirit (Rom. 8:28-29; 1 Cor. 1:23-24; 2 Thess. 2:13-14; John 3:5-6; 6:63; 2 Cor. 3:3, 6). That which was planned from eternity is applied and actualized in time. They are called out of that state of sin and death (Eph. 2:1-6) and transferred to the “state of grace” (chapter 9:4). He enlightens our minds spiritually and savingly to understand the things of God (1 Cor. 2:10; Eph. 1:17-18 ), for fallen man cannot accept and understand the things of God (1 Cor. 2:14). He takes from us that heart of stone, which is full of sin and gives a new heart of flesh (Ezek. 36:26), which desires to love and obey Him. He renews our wills and sets us free from slavery to sin. The ability and willingness to desire and do the good comes by His almighty power (e.g., Phil. 2:12-13; Heb. 13:20-21). It is by grace alone and it is the work of Go...
Chapter 9: Of Free Will
I would like to take a look at the freedom of will endued to us by God. Is it a libertarian free will, which most of the non-Reformed find essential for love? Is it another kind of freedom? Does our freedom mean that God is not sovereign? Does God ordain our free actions? These are some questions that we’ll have to wrestle with. For this study and my position on it, I am greatly indebted to the following authors:
- Jonathan Edwards – The Freedom of the Will
- R.C. Sproul – Willing to Believe (see review)
- Thaddeus J. Williams – Love, Freedom, and Evil: Does Authentic Love Require Free Will?
- Scott Christensen - What about Free Will?: Reconciling Our Choices with God’s Sovereignty
Calvinists have always been leveled the charge that our understanding of God’s absolute micro-managing sovereignty makes men as puppets and robots. One wonders what the reason was for the Westminster, Savoy and 1689 to offer a chapter on free will if they thought that people were merely puppets and robots as many critics like to mock Calvinism.
In section 1, we will have our longest discussion of the will. There, I hope, with Edwards’ Freedom of the Will, to lay the understanding of the human will as believed by many Calvinists, which I believe happens to be biblical and logical. I have chosen to do this for two purposes: 1) I want to understand Edwards’ position better first hand from him. Edwards is difficult to read and understand and sometimes you have to read sentences and paragraphs over and over or look somewhere for an explanation to understand what he’s getting at. 2) And I would like you to understand Edwards’ position on the will which is the commonly held view by many Calvinists. Edwards is obviously not without critique, especially on his speculations about the Fall. But some Reformed people also disagree with him on free will, claiming that his view is too mechanistic and deterministic. His discussion clarifies many things for me and from the people I benefited from, who are mentioned above, I’ve not read their criticism on Edwards beside his speculations on the Fall. I mention this so that you know that not every Calvinist agrees with Edwards, though a majority does. Some resources on this subject are found at Reformed Books Online.
In the following sections, we will try to lay some things concerning man’s will in the four states, from innocence until glory.
§1 God hath endued the will of man with that natural liberty and power of acting upon choice
- God hath endued the will of man with that natural liberty and power of acting upon choice, that it is neither forced, nor by any necessity of nature determined to do good or evil. 1
- Matt. 17:12; James 1:14; Deut. 30:19
The will of man, by definition and nature, is endued...with that natural liberty and power of acting upon choice. This is also one of those things which set us apart from the lower creation. Paragraph 1 does not speak abou...
Chapter 8: Of Christ the Mediator
What are the threefold offices of Christ? What does it mean that Christ is the mediator of the New Covenant? What is Christ’s Active and Passive Obedience? Did Christ, by His death, atone for the sins of all mankind or only for His elect? What is ‘limited’ in ‘Limited Atonement’? What about passages used against Limited Atonement?
§1 It pleased God, in His eternal purpose, to choose and ordain the Lord Jesus
- It pleased God, 1 in His eternal purpose, 2 to choose and ordain the Lord Jesus, his only begotten Son, according to the covenant made between them both, 3 to be the mediator between God and man; the prophet, priest, and king; head and saviour of the church, the heir of all things, and judge of the world; 4 unto whom he did from all eternity give a people to be his seed and to be by him in time redeemed, called, justified, sanctified, and glorified. 5
- Isa. 42:1; John 3:16
- 1 Pet. 1:19-20
- Ps. 110:4; Heb. 7:21-22; Isa. 42:1; 1 Pet. 2:4-6
- 1 Tim. 2:5; Acts 3:22; Heb. 5:5-6; Ps. 2:6; Luke 1:33; Eph. 1:22-23; 5:23; Heb. 1:2; Acts 17:31
- Rom. 8:30; John 17:6; Isa. 53:10; Ps. 22:30; 1 Tim. 2:6; Isa. 55:4-5; 1 Cor. 1:30
The only begotten Son was from all eternity chosen and ordained (Isa. 42:1; 1 Pet. 1:19-20) to be the mediator between God and man (1 Tim. 2:5). This means that having Christ to be the Savior of sinners and the Incarnation were not afterthoughts in God. God did not plan them after the Fall of man, but set them in motion after the Fall. This choosing and ordaining of Christ as mediator was according to the covenant made between them both, i.e., the Covenant of Redemption (see chapter 7:2). Even before sin and before the world was, the Lord Jesus was to be the Savior of His people. The Confession goes on to name the threefold offices of Christ as prophet, priest, and king. He is also the head and savior of the church (Col. 1:18; Acts 5:31). The heir of all things (Heb. 1:2), Who will inherit everything and believers are co-heirs with Him (Rom. 8:16-17). He is also the One Who will judge the living and the dead (Acts 10:42; 17:31; 2 Tim. 4:1). All these offices and functions were agreed upon by the Persons of the Trinity even before the foundation of the world. God from all eternity gave a people to be His seed and to be by Him in time redeemed (John 17:2, 6; Isa. 53:10) and given all the blessings of redemption. All these considerations make the Fall a necessity within God’s decree. For if there is no Fall, then it means that there is no sin and therefore, no need of a savior. But if Christ is said to be ordained as Savior even before the creation of the world, then this means that there will be sinners who will be saved by Him, which makes the Fall an important part of God’s plan.
Christ the Elect
Our Confession states that the Lord Jesus was chosen, called and ordained by God to the office of the mediator. He was chosen by God...
Chapter 7: Of God’s Covenant
What is Covenant Theology? How many covenants does the Bible have and which are these? What is the Reformed Baptist and Paedobaptist understanding of the covenants? What is 1689 Federalism? What are the Covenant of Works and the Covenant of Grace? Is the New Covenant the Covenant of Grace? Was the Covenant of Grace established before the New Covenant? Were the Old Testament covenants administrations of the Covenant of Grace?
Here we come to a chapter that is different than the one in the Westminster and Savoy confessions (see the confessions side by side here). Were the Baptists trying to be original or were they trying to communicate something else? I and many others believe that the framers of the Confession were trying to communicate a different Covenant Theology than that of their Westminster and Savoy brethren. Let not the reader suppose that I will exhaustively deal with every point or seek to rebut oppositions and answer objections. My objective here is to lay an understanding of Covenant Theology as I see it in the Scripture, as I was helped by the books and men mentioned below and as the Confession conforms to the teaching of Holy Writ.
§1 The Covenant Of Works
- The distance between God and the creature is so great, that although reasonable creatures do owe obedience to him as their creator, yet they could never have attained the reward of life but by some voluntary condescension on God’s part, which he hath been pleased to express by way of covenant.1
- Job 35:7-8; Ps. 113:5-6; Isa. 40:13-16; Luke 17:5-10; Acts 17:24-25
This distance between God and the creature is not spatial distance, but the Creator-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 other ground is by way of covenant.
Introduction to Covenant Theology
Covenant theology (also known...
Chapter 6: Of the Fall of Man, Of Sin, And of the Punishment Thereof
What is Total Depravity? Are men as bad as they can be? What is Original Sin? Are we born sinners? What is Federal Headship?
This chapter contains brief comments on the doctrines of Original Sin, Federal Headship and Total Depravity.
§1 Man Was Created Upright And Perfect, But They Fell
- Although God created man upright and perfect, and gave him a righteous law, which had been unto life had he kept it, and threatened death upon the breach thereof, yet he did not long abide in this honour; 1 Satan using the subtlety of the serpent to subdue Eve, then by her seducing Adam, who, without any compulsion, did willfully transgress the law of their creation, and the command given unto them, in eating the forbidden fruit, 2 which God was pleased, according to his wise and holy counsel to permit, having purposed to order it to his own glory. 3
- Eccl. 7:29; Rom. 5:12a, 14-15; Gen. 2:17; 4:25-5:3
- Gen. 3:1-7; 2 Cor. 11:3; 1 Tim. 2:14
- Rom. 11:32-34; 2 Sam. 24:1; 1 Chron. 21:1; 1 Kings 22:22-23; 2 Sam. 16:10; Acts 2:23; 4:27-28
God made all things “very good” (Gen. 1:31), including man. He gave a righteous law, the command not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (Gen. 2:16-17). Had he kept it past his time of probation, it would have been unto life. And God threatened death upon the breath thereof, which passed down to all of Adam’s children. But Adam and Eve did not long abide in this honour. They fell by the subtlety of the serpent who subdued and deceived Eve (1Tim. 2:14). In turn, Eve seduced Adam to eat of the tree which he willfully did and transgress the law of their creation, and the command given unto them (Gen. 3:6). Even this was not outside of God’s providence and decree (as chapter 5:4 says). But was ordained and permitted according to His wise and holy counsel. God had a purpose in ordaining and permitting the Fall, which was for His own glory, which is the purpose and end of all things which He has ordained.
Our Confession is in agreement with Ecclesiastes 7:29 where it is said that man was created upright, but “they” (man) sought out many (evil) schemes. Adam and Eve received a direct command from God not to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (Gen. 2:17), which (perhaps) caused the knowledge and experience of a new kind of morality, namely evil morality. There was nothing in the fruit that did that, but it was God’s way of testing them. The Confession is clear that Adam out of his own will took of the tree and transgressed. He was not coerced against his will and desire, neither was Eve. Of this command, we read in Genesis 2:16-17:
Gen. 2:16-17 And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, 17 but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.”
Here, this command is dire...
Chapter 5: Of Divine Providence
Are divine sovereignty and human responsibility incompatible? What do we mean by providence? How does the providence of God work? Does God use means? How does the providence of God relate to the wicked and the church?
This chapter is in many ways connected with chapter 3 about God’s Decree. Therefore, the interested reader is directed there for more about God’s divine sovereignty.
§1 God the good Creator of all things
- God the good Creator of all things, 1 in his infinite power and wisdom 2 doth uphold, direct, dispose, and govern 3 all creatures and things, from the greatest even to the least, 4 by his most wise and holy providence, 5 to the end for the which they were created, 6 according unto his infallible foreknowledge, and the free and immutable counsel of his own will; 7 to the praise of the glory of his wisdom, power, justice, infinite goodness, and mercy. 8
- Gen. 1:31; 2:18; Ps. 119:68
- Ps. 145:11; Prov. 3:19; Ps. 66:7
- Heb. 1:3; Isa. 46:10-11; Dan. 4:34-35; Ps. 135:6; Acts 17:25-28; Job 38-41
- Matt. 10:29-31
- Prov. 15:3; Ps. 104:24; 145:17
- Col. 1:16-17; Acts 17:24-28
- Ps. 33:10-11; Eph. 1:11
- Isa. 63:14; Eph. 3:10; Rom. 9:17; Gen. 45:7; Ps. 145:7
God the good Creator is the One Who is sovereign over all things and the One who upholds, directs, disposes, and governs all creatures and things (Heb. 1:3; Eph. 1:11; Isa. 46:10-11; Ps. 115:3; 135:6; Rev. 4:11). His sovereignty extends from the greatest even to the least (Matt. 10:29-31). God is as much concerned about little things as He is about big things because they all work out for His glory and according to His most wise plan. By His most wise and holy providence, He has assigned an end and purpose for everything that was created (e.g., Prov. 16:4). This was done according to God’s infallible foreknowledge of that which He has ordained and according to the free and immutable counsel of His own will. The purpose for disposing and directing all things as He does is to the praise of the glory of His wisdom, power, justice, infinite goodness, and mercy which is seen in His providence.
Providence may be defined as:
Divine providence is the governance of God by which He, with wisdom and love, cares for and directs all things in the universe. The doctrine of divine providence asserts that God is in complete control of all things. He is sovereign over the universe as a whole (Psalm 103:19), the physical world (Matthew 5:45), the affairs of nations (Psalm 66:7), human destiny (Galatians 1:15), human successes and failures (Luke 1:52), and the protection of His people (Psalm 4:8).
It is the God, the good Creator, Who governs and directs every step in the universe. He is the standard of goodness. He means and intends everything for good (defined by Himself), while man means it for evil (Gen. 50:20). Everything He does is most holy and wise, free and immutable, and for His glory (Isa. 46:8-11). He upholds t...
Chapter 4: Of Creation
Did God create for His glory? How did God create? Why did God create? How long did God take to create? What did God create?
Creation: there are a few topics like this which generate heat between believer and unbeliever, and even among believers. But it is essential. Here is the foundation of everything. If there was no creation, there would obviously be nothing. Whom can we trust to tell us how it happened? The only Witness has been pleased to reveal to us the way He created this world. The question is: Was everything that He revealed accurate and true? Can we gain any knowledge from outside the special revelation of God that can supply or actually radically change our view of Genesis? Which is primary, the exegesis of Scripture or the findings of modern (secular) science?
There was a time when my interest in this topic was immense, but that is for some reason no longer the case. Therefore, my comments will be short.
§1 In the beginning it pleased God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit to make the world
- In the beginning it pleased God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, 1 for the manifestation of the glory of his eternal power, wisdom, and goodness, 2 to create or make the world, and all things therein, whether visible or invisible, 3 in the space of six days, 4 and all very good. 5
- Heb. 1:2; John 1:2-3; Gen. 1:2; Job 26:13; 33:4
- Rom. 1:20; Jer. 10:12; Ps. 104:24; 33:5-6; Prov. 3:19; Acts 14:15-16
- Gen. 1:1; John 1:2; Col. 1:16
- Gen. 2:1-3; Ex. 20:8-11
- Gen. 1:31; Ecc. 7:29; Rom. 5:12
All things were created in the beginning. This is the beginning of time, space and matter. The universe was is not eternal, but had a definite beginning when God started to create out of nothing. This Creator God is specifically said to be the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (Gen. 1:1-2; John 1:2-3). The Confession does not speak about a generic God or Creator, but about the true God revealed in Scripture. The God of Scripture began to create for the manifestation of his glory (Rom. 1:20; 11:36). God did not create because He lacked anything, but created to manifest His glory. He created the world and all things in the world, whether visible or invisible (Col. 1:16). He created the earth, the stars, the atoms, spirits, angels, humans, animals, rocks, trees and things invisible to the naked eye. Everything that “exists” was created or is created by the will of God (Rev. 4:11). Everything that was created, was created in the space of six days (Ex. 20:11). I think it is indisputable as to what these words meant for the writers of the Confession. When reading old authors from the 17th century, it is not unusual to read them dating events from the creation of Adam. The six days of creation had the same span as normal six days as they experienced them. They have no knowledge of the mess that theologians have made about the simple reading of Genesis 1 in our modern time. It is not that there was absolute...
Chapter 3: Of God’s Decree
What does it mean that God is sovereign? Does God control all things? Does God ordain and is sovereign even over sin? What about election? Does God choose who goes to Heaven and who goes to Hell? Did God predestine because He saw what was going to come to pass? Does it matter what we do? Does God ordain the ends as well as the means?
- God hath decreed in himself, from all eternity, by the most wise and holy counsel of his own will, freely and unchangeably, 1 all things, whatsoever comes to pass; 2 yet so as thereby is God neither the author of sin nor hath fellowship with any therein; 3 nor is violence offered to the will of the creature, nor yet is the liberty or contingency of second causes taken away, but rather established; 4 in which appears his wisdom in disposing all things, and power and faithfulness in accomplishing his decree. 5
- Prov. 19:21; Isa 14:24-27; 46:10-11; Ps. 115:3; 135:6; Rom. 9:19; Heb. 6:17
- Dan. 4:34-35; Rom. 8:28; 11:36; Eph. 1:11
- Gen. 18:25; James 1:13; 1 John 1:5
- Gen. 50:20; 2 Sam. 24:1; Isa. 10:5-7; Matt. 17:12; John 19:11; Acts 2:23; 4:27-28
- Num. 23:19; Eph. 1:3-5
God hath decreed in Himself means that He decreed by Himself alone without considering others. As the modern translation puts it: “From all eternity God decreed everything that occurs, without reference to anything outside himself.” He was not influenced when He decreed everything. But what does it mean that God “decreed”? A decree, in this context, means putting everything in order and planning everything that is to occur in history. This decree of God was from all eternity and therefore is unchangeable. To further stress the “decreed in himself” part, the Confession adds that this decree was made freely. God was not limited by anything outside Himself. Furthermore, this decree was according to the most wise and holy counsel of His own will. It was not arbitrary or random. Rather, it was ordained by the Wisdom Himself Who does nothing without a goal, reason or a purpose (cf. Eph. 1:11). What did God decree? All things, whatsoever comes to pass. There is nothing that occurs that was not already decreed by God from all eternity. But this does not mean that God is the author of sin nor hath fellowship with any therein. God does not create sin or author it, nor does He have delight in it. Rather, He orders it and ordains it to be for His own holy purposes, according to the most wise and holy counsel of His will. Even evil and sin are ordained according to His holy purposes. Our redemption came about by the greatest sin committed by man, the crucifixion of the Son of God, which was ordained by God (Acts 4:27-28).
When God ordains sin, He does no violence to the will of the creature, nor is their liberty hindered or taken away. Everyone committing sin and evil does so because they will and desire so. In the examp...
Chapter 2: Of God and of the Holy Trinity
Who is God? What is God like? What does it mean that God is immutable? Does God never change His mind? What is God’s love? What is God’s justice? Does God know all things? What is the Trinity? Is it biblical? Do we believe in three gods? What do the words “essence” and “person” mean?
§1 The Attributes of God
- The Lord our God is but one only living and true God; 1 whose subsistence is in and of himself, infinite in being and perfection; 2 whose essence cannot be comprehended by any but himself; 3 a most pure spirit, invisible, without body, parts, or passions, who only hath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto; 4 who is immutable, immense, eternal, incomprehensible, almighty, every way infinite, most holy, most wise, most free, most absolute; 5 working all things according to the counsel of his own immutable and most righteous will for his own glory; 6 most loving, gracious, merciful, long-suffering, abundant in goodness and truth, forgiving iniquity, transgression, and sin; 7 the rewarder of them that diligently seek him, 8 and withal most just and terrible in his judgments, hating all sin, and who will by no means clear the guilty. 9
- Deut. 6:4; Jer. 10:10; 1 Cor. 8:4,6; 1 Thess. 1:9
- Job 11:7-9; 26:14; Isa. 48:12; Acts 17:24-25
- Ex. 3:14; Job 11:7-8; 26:14; Ps. 145:3; Rom. 11:33-34; 1 Cor. 2:11
- John 4:24; 1 Tim. 1:17; Deut. 4:15-16; Luke 24:39; Acts 14:11, 15; James 5:17
- Mal. 3:6; James 1:17; 1 Kings 8:27; Jer. 23:23-24; Ps. 90:2; 1 Tim. 1:17; Gen. 17:1; Rev. 4:8; Isa. 6:3; Rom. 16:27; Ps. 115:3; Ex. 3:14
- Eph. 1:11; Isa. 46:10; Prov. 16:4; Rom. 11:36
- 1 John 4:8, 16; Ex. 34:6-7
- Heb. 11:6; Gen. 15:1; Matt. 5:12; 10:41-42; Luke 6:35
- Neh 9:32-33; Ps. 5:5-6; 11:5; Nahum 1:2-3; Ex. 34:7
There is but one only living and true God (Deut. 6:4; Ps. 96:5; Jer. 10:10; 1 Cor 8:4, 6). His subsistence is in and of himself, that is, the three Persons of the Trinity, which will be spoken of in paragraph 3. This great God is infinite in being and perfection. He is infinite and perfect in all of His ways and attributes. Furthermore, no one can truly and fully comprehend this great God but Himself (Rom. 11:33-34). He is a most pure spirit, invisible, without body, parts, or passions (1 Tim. 1:17), meaning that He is free of the limitation of physical existence and emotions like humans (passions).
He possesses immortality by a necessity of His nature (1 Tim. 1:17; 6:16). Our immortality is delegated and derived from God, but His immorality is by necessity and thanks to His nature as God. God cannot but be immortal. He is not only immortal, but He is also immutable, i.e., unchanging (Mal 3:6; Jas. 1:17; Num. 23:19). He is immense, which means that He is without limits and immeasurable (1 Kgs. 8:27). He is eternal, meaning that He neither has a beginning or will He have an end (Ps. 90:2). He is almighty, which means that He can do and accomplish a...
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 a logical order, therefore, here are the topics in a somewhat more logical order:
- Necessity 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 1, 10)
- 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
- 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
- Isa. 8:20; Luke 16:29; Eph. 2:20; 2 Tim. 3:15-17
- Ps. 19:1-3; Rom. 1:19-21, 32; 2:12a, 14-15
- Ps. 19:1-3 with vv. 7-11; Rom. 1:19-21; 2:12a, 14-15 with 1:16-17; and 3:21
- Heb. 1:1-2a
- 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
- 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 t...
Eph 2:1 And you were dead in the trespasses and sins Eph 2:2 in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— Eph 2:3 among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.
Introduction to the Confession
It was a while back that I somehow came into contact (I don't remember how, maybe through James White?) with the 1689 Baptist Confession of Faith and I found myself at home in it. Though I did not study it very deeply. This time I have taken the time to go through it with Sam Waldron which I though he did a very good job.
Introduction to Covenant Theology
Before beginning my study of the confession, through a brother I got into the subject of Baptist Covenant Theology, I got the work of Pascal Denault The Distinctiveness of Baptist Covenant Theology and Waldron's A Reformed Baptist Manifesto. Sometime later I got the recent Recovering a Covenantal Heritage volume. I have been more and more interested in this stream of Reformed Theology.
Introduction to Baptistic Convictions & Calvinism
I first became baptistic simply through reading the New Testament and finding no evidence of any infant baptism. I was baptized in the Armenian Church as an infant and was attending a Baptist church in Holland and was convinced that my baptism was no baptism. So on 14-06-2013 I was baptized after a profession of faith. At that time I was in the process of studying the Doctrines of Grace. Sometime later, by the grace of God I came to embrace and glory in them.
The first and foremost thing that I love about this Confession is it's high, high, high view of God's sovereign freedom. I love it and that is exactly how I believe that God is, the Sovereign King over every molecule.
I love the fact of the Baptists' deep commitment to the truth and the sole authority of the Bible and their appeal to the Bible. I could not really find any disagreements with the Confession, so I feel home in it and I'm not ashamed to identify myself as a Reformed Baptist.
What I loved about Dr Waldron's work is his way of explaining the Confession and going through the biblical evidence (as I have been reading Grudem, I would have loved it if Dr Waldron would cite portions of the passages that he was using as proof, rather most of the time, only references were given).
When I started studying the Confession I didn't realizes that a confession is actually a Systematic Theology! :)
Dr Waldron explained things very well, I especially liked his extensive treatment of chapters 29 (Of Baptism), 31 (of the state of man after death and of the resurrection of the dead) and 32 (Of the last judgment). There he interacted with the other side and provided some answers. With the explanations he went also through more detail.
During my study of the 1689 I left some comments about my thoughts on each paragraph that can be viewed here: https://www.thecalvinist.net/post/1689-Second-Baptist-Confession-Of-Faith-With-Commentary-And-Highlighting/922
Also I have opened a new section wherein I try to go in detail to explain why I agree with the formulation of doctrines in the 1689. The section is found here: https://www.thecalvi...
R.C. Sproul – Willing To Believe
The Controversy Over Free Will
Although read in Dutch I’ve was motivated to get this work by watching RC Sproul’s teaching series on the book called Willing to Believe. It helped understand the issues surround the question of human freedom and sovereignty. I remember that it was not much later than that I was studying Jonathan Edwards’ The Freedom of the Will, which was somewhat difficult.
In this great work this master theologian gives a historical theological study of important theologians throughout the history of the Christian church on the question of human freedom. He goes through some Christian heroes and giants of the faith like Augustine, Edwards, Luther and Calvin. Also some who were non-Christian and anti-Christian in their theology and thinking like Charles Finney and Pelagius. Lastly, theologians who belong more to the in house debate between Arminianism/Semi-Pelagianism and Calvinism, like Jacob Arminius himself.
Pelagius was a British monk living in the fifth century and he is known to have a huge dispute with Augustine on the nature of man and free will. Pelagius reacted to a seemingly harmless prayer of Augustine which said: Grant what Thou commandest, and command what Thou dost desire. Harmless doesn’t it? Well, that’s not what Pelagius thought. He thought it outrages, because it showed man’s total dependence on God to graciously grant the ability to obey Him. Pelagius believed that commandment presupposes ability. What many nowadays believe. He said that God would never command something that man was not able to do. Therefore, everything that God commands man is able to do. So, away with Romans 8:7-8.
He further taught that Adam was in no sense the federal head of the human race. Adam was created mortal and would have died even if he didn’t sin. All men are born in the state that Adam was in. Adam gave man bad influence, not a sinful nature otherwise known as Original Sin.
He taught that the nature of man was basically good and that sinning didn’t effect that basic goodness of man.
Man has a free will to do good or evil and to obey God in all things.
Jesus’ death was not substitionary, but it was as an example for us.
People can live sinless lives, and in fact some have lived sinless lives.
The grace of God is important, but not essential. What I mean is that it would be awesome if one uses the grace of God for obedience, it will make things much easier, but it is even possible to obey without the grace of God.
This among other things are the things that he believed. I think, for any serious Bible student, they must conclude that this places him outside of Christian orthodoxy. Pelagius and his teachings were condemned in 418 and you would think that it will be the last thing heard of Pelagius, but then arises Charles Finney many centuries later in America.
Charles Finney taught things very similar to Pelagius. In fac...
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 with...
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
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 him...
But we see him who for a little while was made lower than the angels, namely Jesus, crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone. 10 For it was fitting that he, for whom and by whom all things exist, in bringing many sons to glory, should make the founder of their salvation perfect through suffering. (ESV)
(For a better and more recent defense see here.)
“Taste death for everyone,” if we understand this to refer to every single individual then the logical conclusion is Universalism, which has lots of biblical problems. So let us dig a little deeper in the context of this verse.
The question is— If everyone (pas, πᾶς, G3956, “all, any, every, the whole”) in verse 9 is meant to be taken as in “every single person without exception,” then we have a problem on our hands. The problem is that the passage would then mean that everyone will be saved, or that Christ has atoned for the sins of everyone, even those in Hell. It will totally destroy the picture of Christ being the mediator/intercessor/High Priest of His people in Hebrews chapters 9 and 10. Interceding for a specific people whom He has perfected.
Let us now consider the surrounding passages. In verse 10 we see that that the Lord Jesus has brought “many sons to glory.” If the “everyone” of verse 9 is to be taken as “every single individual without exception” then verse 10 should’ve read something like: “bringing all to glory” or “brining all sons to glory.” “Many sons” has a limitation, it does not refer to every single individual. We read further in Hebrews 2:11-13
For he who sanctifies and those who are sanctified all have one source. That is why he is not ashamed to call them brothers, 12 saying, “I will tell of your name to my brothers; in the midst of the congregation I will sing your praise.” 13 And again, “I will put my trust in him.” And again, “Behold, I and the children God has given me.”
Who are being sanctified? We’re told in Heb 10:14 “For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified,” those are Christians, people who have put their faith in Him, those for whom He intercedes (Heb 7:25). “Children God has given me” echoes John 6, specifically verses 37-39.
ESV Study Bible explains:
- Heb. 2:9 But we see him, that is, Jesus. At this point all interpreters agree that the focus of the passage is Jesus (cf. notes on vv. 7, 8). The phrase little while and the sequence of events in vv. 7–8 (cf. Ps. 8:5–6) demonstrate that, after first being made lower than the angels, Jesus was subsequently crowned and exalted. While Jesus’ sufferings indicated his humiliation and subjection, his suffering of death was also the reason for his being crowned with glory and honor. Jesus tasted death as a work of God’s grace done on behalf of everyone (i.e., all who follow him; Heb. 9:15, 28; 10:39). Jesus. This is the first mention...
For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross. (ESV)
This is another one of the verses that Universalists like to use. While this site is not meant to refute Universalism, I’ve seen this verse used against Limited Atonement, so I thought it should be helpful if we could take a look at it and see what it teaches.
The Sovereignty Of Christ
We should realise that the context is actually about the absolute sovereignty of Christ in both creation and preservation. Meaning, it is primarily not about the atonement, but about His sovereign reign over the created cosmos. Let’s take a look at Colossians 1:
15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. 16 For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. 17 And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent.
In this passage we see that Christ is actually the Creator. He is the One who created all that exists. He is the firstborn of creation - that does not mean that He was the first creature, for the text says all things were created by Him. But not only that, but further in verse 18 the word "firstborn" is connected to preeminence. And furthermore, it means that He has the rights of the firstborn, i.e. the heir of all things (e.g. Heb 1:2-4) that He created.
Paul exhausts the language in trying to clearly communicate that the Lord Christ is the Creator of all that exists, even the wicked powers. This he does when he refers to "rulers or authorities" in verse 16. We should take a look at that phrase in Paul to see what he means.
Rulers and Authorities
The closest use of this phrase (εἴτε ἀρχαὶ εἴτε ἐξουσίαι) is in the next chapter:
Col 2:15 He disarmed the rulers and authorities [τὰς ἀρχὰς καὶ τὰς ἐξουσίας] and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him.
Christ is declared to be victorious in His cross over those rulers and authorities, which in the beginning were created by Him and for Him. They have their purpose of existence in Him and in His decree and pleasure. All things, including those evil powers which the Lord Christ triumphed over were created for Christ's purpose, in order to display His glory somehow.
In Col 2:10 it says that Christ is "the head of all rule and authority", meaning He is the head both over the good and the bad. He reigns as supreme. But notice here that the verse speaks about institutions and not persons, I mean, about rule and authority, and not rulers and authorities.
In 1Cor 15:24, Christ at His glorious Parousia will destroy all evil "every rule and every authority and...
And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, 15 that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.” 16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. (ESV)
(For a better and more recent defense see here.)
“The Gospel in a single verse,” that is what many have called John 3:16. Surely it is one of the most known verses from Scripture, if not the most known. But the contextual meaning of it now has been lost. Nowadays Jn 3:16 is used to imply that God loves everyone so very much and gives everyone a choice to believe in Him. I, for one thought that Jn 3:16 was something that John wrote, not something Jesus said in a conversation with Nicodemus! Although that is still debated and not 100% clear. So let us examine Jn 3:16 within its context.
First thing to remember is that this is a conversation between the Lord Jesus and Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. Nicodemus liked Jesus’ teachings and came to Him in the night to talk to him and ask Him questions. Jesus in verse 3 gives Him the famous “You must be born again” answer.
Now we need to examine the meaning of the word “world” in this context. The Lord tells Nicodemus that God has a special love for the “world,” it seems to me that it’s talking about redemptive love, not just general love that God has for every human being. What does this mean? The Greek word for “world” is kosmos (κόσμος, G2888). This is a very interesting word. Let’s see what the Brown-Driver-Briggs' Hebrew and Greek Definitions says about this word:
- - Original: κόσμος
- - Transliteration: Kosmos
- - Phonetic: kos'-mos
- - Definition:
- 1. an apt and harmonious arrangement or constitution, order, government
- 2. ornament, decoration, adornment, i.e. the arrangement of the stars, 'the heavenly hosts', as the ornament of the heavens. 1 Pet. 3:
- 3. the world, the universe
- 4. the circle of the earth, the earth
- 5. the inhabitants of the earth, men, the human family
- 6. the ungodly multitude; the whole mass of men alienated from God, and therefore hostile to the cause of Christ
- 7. world affairs, the aggregate of things earthly
- a. the whole circle of earthly goods, endowments riches, advantages, pleasures, etc, which although hollow and frail and fleeting, stir desire, seduce from God and are obstacles to the cause of Christ
- 8. any aggregate or general collection of particulars of any sort
- a. the Gentiles as contrasted to the Jews (Rom. 11:12 etc)
- b. of believers only, John 1:29; 3:16; 3:17; 6:33; 12:47 1 Cor. 4:9; 2 Cor. 5:19
- - Origin: probably from the base of G2865
- - TDNT entry: 17:28,5
- - Part(s) of speech: Noun Masculine
Does it really say that God loves every single person in the world equally or in the same way? I doubt it, seeing passages for example in the Psalms which speak about God having a hatred (5:5; 11:5), of cou...
1 Timothy 4:10
For to this end we toil and strive, because we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Savior of all people, especially of those who believe. (1 Timothy 4:10, ESV)
(For a recent defense see here.)
Many non-Calvinist take this verse to mean that God is trying to save all people. But, one wonders why isn’t He able to complete this ‘plan’ of His and the answer of course is that man doesn’t choose God, which we agree with, but not the part that God isn’t able to fulfill His desire, because the Son paid the ransom for all whom the Father gave Him (Jn 17; Eph 5:25; Jn 6:37-40).
But still we need to deal with this verse, if we believe that the Bible is inspired there should be a consistency running through it. There are no ‘Arminian’ or ‘Calvinist’ verses, there are only God inspired verses.
First we need to look how the word ‘Savior’ is used in this context. The word ‘soter’ (σωτήρ, G4990) has the meaning of ‘savior, deliverer, preserver’ it occurs 24 times in the New Testament mostly in the sense of personal Savior (Lk 2:11; Jn 4:42; Act 5:31; Tit 2:13; 2Pe 2:20 etc…). But it is important to note the context. I’m going to argue that it means soter as in the sense of a preserver, deliverer.
Let’s take a look at 1 Timothy 4. First we see in the first paragraph of 1 Timothy 4, in verses 1 through 5 Paul warns Timothy against false teachers who will teach doctrines of demons, who will lead many astray, who will forbid marriage and require abstinence from (certain) foods. Food which is given by God and made holy by His word and prayer and should be received with thanksgiving. We see here that Paul is warning Timothy against those who want to forbid certain foods (perhaps some Jews who want to follow the Torah concerning ceremonially clean foods, or some other group which I am not aware of). Here we see clearly that Paul is talking about regular life (marriage, food) and not discussing things concerning salvation of the lost with Timothy or how God has saved them from His wrath, though salvation from wrath is mentioned in verses 10b and perhaps in 16.
In the next portion of 1 Timothy 4, specifically in verses 6 through 10, Paul tells Timothy to keep this teaching, that he should not follow the false teaching, and have nothing to do with irreverent, silly myths. Next Paul tells him that bodily training is good, but godliness is much better because it has value for this current life, but also the life to come. This is good (v9). Next we come to our ‘problem’ verse. In verse 10 we’re told that God " is the Savior of all people, especially of those who believe.” What does that mean? Does it mean that He wants to save everyone from His righteous wrath? Why doesn’t He then? If that is so, why does the last part of the verse says “especially of those who believe” and what does that mean?
We saw that the context of 1 Timothy 4 is (mostly) concerned with physical life. Things like food and marriage. Then we co...
“You stiff-necked people, uncircumcised in heart and ears, you always resist the Holy Spirit. As your fathers did, so do you. (Acts 7:51 ESV)
Calvinists, have no problem with this passage at all. Dead sinners always resist the Spirit of God. But when Spirit comes to regenerate, for the purpose of salvation, the dead sinner is made alive and willing, with no resistance.
Rather, there is a bigger problem for those Arminians who say that sinners are not really dead in sin or unable to come to God, how do they cooperate or respond to the Spirit if they always resist Him? There is said here much more than some Arminians would want to admit. The total depravity of human kind which without sovereign grace always resists the work of God.
This is what the ESV Study Bible says:
Acts 7:51 Stephen concluded with a direct attack on Israel for rejecting the Messiah. While this may seem harsh, Luke will soon say that Stephen was “full of the Holy Spirit” (v. 55; cf. 6:10, 15) and he was no doubt led by the Spirit, who knew the hearts of Stephen’s listeners, to make this accusation. Using the language of the OT he accused them of being stiff-necked (see Ex. 33:3, 5; 34:9; Deut. 9:6, 13), uncircumcised in heart and ears (Lev. 26:41; Deut. 10:16; Jer. 4:4, 6:10, 9:26; Ezek. 44:7, 9), and resisting the Holy Spirit (Isa. 63:10). In fact, the repeated rejection of God’s will is the point of his story, justifying the charge that prophets also made against the nation.
John Gill comments on this:
Ye stiffnecked,.... Or "hard necked", the same with קשה עורף, which is a character frequently given of this people, Ex 32:9 and elsewhere, and is expressive of their obstinacy, stubbornness and refractoriness; who would not submit their necks to the yoke of God's law, and be obedient to his commands:
and uncircumcised in heart and ears; for though they had the mark of circumcision in their flesh, of which they boasted; yet they had not the true circumcision of the heart; their hearts were not circumcised to fear and love the Lord, nor their ears to hear the word of the Lord and the Gospel of Christ; so that notwithstanding their confidence in carnal privileges, they were uncircumcised persons:
ye do always resist the Holy Ghost; the resistance made by these persons was not to the Spirit of God in them, of which they were destitute, but to the Spirit of God in his ministers, in his apostles, and particularly in Stephen; nor to any internal operation of his grace, but to the external ministry of the word, and to all that objective light, knowledge, evidence, and conviction that it gave of Jesus's being the Messiah: and such who resist Christ's ministers, resist him, and such who resist him, may be said to resist his Holy Spirit; and the word here used signifies a rushing against, and falling upon, in a rude and hostile way, and fitly expresses their ill treatment of Christ and his ministers, by falling upon them and putting them to de...
Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men. 19 For as by the one man's disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man's obedience the many will be made righteous. Romans 5:18-19 (ESV)
(For a recent defense of this see here.)
This to me seems a pretty simply one, but it’s going to be troublesome if people only quote verse 18 and you’re not aware of verse 19 which clarifies verse 18.
|One trespass led to condemnation for “all”||One act of righteousness leads to justification and life for “all”|
One disobedience leads to “the many” made sinners
One obedience leads to the justification of “the many”
Throughout the discussion in Romans 5 the Apostle groups humanity into to groups: they’re either in Adam or in Christ.
All those outside of Christ are in Adam, they are his natural children and have inherited the sinful nature from their father Adam, who is the root of the human tree. He was the representative of all the human race in the Garden.
But by the grace of God, we have another Federal Head, namely our precious Lord Jesus, who stood in the stead of His people (Matt 1:21; 2 Co 5:21; Tit 2:14, Jn 10:15, etc..).
Not all the human race is in Him, but only those who believe in Him. All those who do not believe remain in Adam.
It is clear from contrasting verses 18 and 19 (and Romans 5 in general) that Paul does not see the whole human race as justified because of Christ, as that would contradict the idea of Hell and what was said before chapter 5, especially Romans 1-2 and what is in this chapter: Romans 5:12, 14, 16-17.
The ESV Study Bible explains: 
Rom. 5:18 The one trespass of Adam, as the covenantal head of the human race, brought condemnation and guilt to all people. In a similar way, Christ’s one act of righteousness (either his death as such or his whole life of perfect obedience, including his death) grants righteousness and life to all who belong to him. for all men. Some interpreters have advocated universalism (the view that all will be saved) based on these verses. But Paul makes it plain in this context that only those who “receive” (v. 17) God’s gift belong to Christ (see also 1:16–5:11, which indicates that only those who have faith will be justified). The wording “as … so” shows that Paul’s focus is not on the number in each group but on the method of either sin or righteousness being passed from the representative leader to the whole group: the first “all men” refers to all who are in Adam (every human being), while the second “all men” refers to all believers, to all who are “in Christ.” On the translation “men,” see note on 5:12.
The John MacArthur ESV Study Bible explains: 
Condemnation. See not on v. 16. One act of righteousness. Not a reference to a single event, but gen...
Preservation of the Saints
Some prefer saying “the preservation of the saints” to emphasize that this is the work of God: others use the phrase “eternal security” to emphasize the impossibility of God’s perfect work of salvation being undone. But whatever one calls it, it is the belief that when Christ save one of His elect, he will not fail to keep that saved person throughout life and bring them safely in to His presence. It is, in short, the belief that Christ is able to save perfectly.
All who are chosen by God, redeemed by Christ, and given faith by the Spirit, are eternally saved. They are kept in faith by the power of almighty God, and thus persevere to the end.
For a biblical defense and an exegetical case for this doctrine, also containing answers to passages supposedly refuting the doctrine of Perseverance see here.
Ps 138:8 The LORD will fulfill his purpose for me; your steadfast love, O LORD, endures forever. Do not forsake the work of your hands.
Ecc 3:14 I perceived that whatever God does endures forever; nothing can be added to it, nor anything taken from it. God has done it, so that people fear before him.
Isa 46:3-4 “Listen to me, O house of Jacob, all the remnant of the house of Israel, who have been borne by me from before your birth, carried from the womb; 4 even to your old age I am he, and to gray hairs I will carry you. I have made, and I will bear; I will carry and will save.
1Cor 1:4-9 I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that was given you in Christ Jesus, 5 that in every way you were enriched in him in all speech and all knowledge— 6 even as the testimony about Christ was confirmed among you— 7 so that you are not lacking in any gift, as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ, 8 who will sustain you to the end, guiltless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.
Col 3:3-4 For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.
Phil 1:6 And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.
2Tim 4:18 The Lord will rescue me from every evil deed and bring me safely into his heavenly kingdom. To him be the glory forever and ever. Amen.
1Pet 1:3-5 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, 5 who by God's power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.
Jn 6:39-40 And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shou...
Irresistible Grace, Victorious Grace, Effectual Calling of the Spirit
This is the belief that God is able to raise the spiritually dead sinner to life. This is an act of efficient grace. When God chooses to bring on of his elect to spiritual life, it is an act of similar to when Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead: just as Lazarus was incapable of resisting the power of Christ in raising him from the dead, so too the dead sinner is incapable of resisting the power of God that raises him to spiritual life. This is not to say that men have not resisted God’s grace. This doctrine speaks specifically to the grace that brings regeneration, not to individual acts of sin committed by believers or unbelievers.
In addition to the outward general call to salvation, which is made to everyone who hears the gospel, the Holy Spirit extends to the elect a special inward call that inevitably brings them to salvation. The external call (which is made to all without distinction) can be, and often is, rejected. However, the internal call (which is made only to the elect) cannot be rejected; it always results in conversion. By means of this special call, the Spirit irresistibly draws sinners to Christ. He is not limited in His work of applying salvation by man’s will, nor is He dependent upon man’s cooperation for success. The Spirit graciously causes the elect sinner to cooperate, to believe, to repent, to come freely and willingly to Christ. God’s grace, therefore, is invincible; it never fails to result in the salvation of these to whom it is extended.
For a defense of Effectual Calling/Irresistible Grace see here.
Ps 110:3 Your people will offer themselves freely on the day of your power, in holy garments; from the womb of the morning, the dew of your youth will be yours.
Mt 16:15-17 He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” 16 Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” 17 And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven.
Lk 10:21-22 In that same hour he rejoiced in the Holy Spirit and said, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will. 22 All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows who the Son is except the Father, or who the Father is except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.”
Jn 6:37-40 All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out. 38 For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me. 39 And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day. 40 For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks...
Limited Atonement, Definite Redemption
Since it is God’s purpose to save a special people for Himself, and He has chosen to do so only through the perfect sacrifice of Jesus Christ, Christ came to give His life “a ransom for many” so as to “save His people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21). The intention of Christ in His cross-work was to save His people specifically. Therefore, Christ’s sacrifice is perfect and complete, for it actually accomplishes perfect redemption.
Christ’s redeeming work was intended to save the elect only and actually secured salvation for them. His death was a substitutionary endurance of the penalty of sin in the place of certain specified sinners. In addition to putting away the sins of His people, Christ’s redemption secured everything necessary for their salvation, including faith, which unites them to Him. The gift of faith is infallibly applied by the Spirit to all for whom Christ died, thereby guaranteeing their salvation.
For a defense of this doctrine see here.
Penal substitutionary atonement refers to the doctrine that Christ died on the cross as a substitute for sinners. God imputed the guilt of our sins to Christ, and he, in our place, bore the punishment that we deserve. This was a full payment for sins, which satisfied both the wrath and the righteousness of God, so that He could forgive sinners without compromising His own holy standard.
Isa 53:6 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.
Isa 53:12 Therefore I will divide him a portion with the many, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong, because he poured out his soul to death and was numbered with the transgressors; yet he bore the sin of many, and makes intercession for the transgressors.
Rom 3:21-25 But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— 22 the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God's righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins.
2Cor 5:21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
Gal 3:13-14 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree”— 14 so that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promised Spirit through faith.
Heb 9:25-28 Nor was it to offer himself repeatedly, as the high priest enters the h...
Unconditional Election, Sovereign Grace
God elects a specific people unto Himself without reference to anything they do. This means the basis of God’s choice of the elect is solely within Himself: His grace, His mercy, His will. It is not man’s actions, works, or even foreseen faith, that “draws” God’s choice. God’s election is unconditional and final.
God’s choice of certain individuals for salvation before the foundation of the world rested solely in His own sovereign will. His choice of particular sinners was not based on any foreseen response or obedience on their part, such as faith, repentance, etc. On the contrary, God gives faith and repentance to each individual whom He selected. These acts are the result, not the cause, of God’s choice. Election, therefore, was not determined by, or conditioned upon, any virtuous quality or act foreseen in man. Those whom God sovereignly elected He brings through the power of the Spirit to a willing acceptance of Christ. Thus, God’s choice of the sinner, not the sinner’s choice of Christ, is the ultimate cause of salvation.
For a defense and case for this doctrine see here.
Ps 65:4 Blessed is the one you choose and bring near, to dwell in your courts! We shall be satisfied with the goodness of your house, the holiness of your temple!
Mt 11:25-30 At that time Jesus declared, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children; 26 yes, Father, for such was your gracious will. 27 All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him. 28 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
Mt 22:14 For many are called, but few are chosen.
Jn 6:37 All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out.
Jn 13:18 I am not speaking of all of you; I know whom I have chosen. But the Scripture will be fulfilled, ‘He who ate my bread has lifted his heel against me.’
Jn 15:16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you.
Acts 2:39 For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.”
Acts 2:47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.
Acts 13:46-48 And Paul and Barnabas spoke out boldly, saying, “It was necessary that the word of God be spoken first to you. ...
Total depravity, Radical corruption
Man is dead in sin, completely and radically impacted by the Fall, the enemy of God, incapable of saving himself. This does not mean that man is as evil as he could be. Nor does it mean that the image of God is destroyed, or that the will is done away with. Instead, it refers to the all pervasiveness of the effects of sin, and the fact that man is, outside of Christ, the enemy of God.
Because of the Fall, man is unable of himself to savingly believe the gospel. The sinner is dead, blind and deaf to the things of God; his heart is deceitful and desperately corrupt. His will is not free; it is in bondage to his evil nature. Therefore, he will not –indeed, he cannot—choose good over evil in the spiritual realm. Consequently, takes much more than the Spirit’s assistance to bring a sinner to Christ. Spirit makes the sinner alive and gives him a new nature. Faith is not salvation, but itself a part of God’s gift of salvation. It is God’s gift to the sinner, not the sinner’s gift to God.
For a case see here.
Gn 6:5 The LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.
Gn 8:21 And when the LORD smelled the pleasing aroma, the LORD said in his heart, “I will never again curse the ground because of man, for the intention of man's heart is evil from his youth. Neither will I ever again strike down every living creature as I have done.
Job 14:1-4 “Man who is born of a woman is few of days and full of trouble. 2 He comes out like a flower and withers; he flees like a shadow and continues not. 3 And do you open your eyes on such a one and bring me into judgment with you? 4 Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean? There is not one.
Job 15:14-16 What is man, that he can be pure? Or he who is born of a woman, that he can be righteous? 15 Behold, God puts no trust in his holy ones, and the heavens are not pure in his sight; 16 how much less one who is abominable and corrupt, a man who drinks injustice like water!
Ps 51:5 Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me.
Ps 58:3 The wicked are estranged from the womb; they go astray from birth, speaking lies.
Ps 130:3 If you, O LORD, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand?
Ps 143:2 Enter not into judgment with your servant, for no one living is righteous before you.
Prov 20:9 Who can say, “I have made my heart pure; I am clean from my sin”?
Ecc 9:3 This is an evil in all that is done under the sun, that the same event happens to all. Also, the hearts of the children of man are full of evil, and madness is in their hearts while they live, and after that they go to the dead.
Isa 64:6 We have all become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment. We all fade like a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, take us aw...
The document can be found here.
General Resources used
- Wayne Grudem; Systematic Theology Chapter 16 – God’s Providence
- A.W. Pink; Sovereignty of God
- R.C. Sproul; What is Reformed Theology?
- David N. Steele, Curtis C. Thomas, S. Lance Quinn; The Five Points of Calvinism: Defined, Defended, and Documented
- James R White; Potter's Freedom: A Defense of the Reformation and the Rebuttal of Norman Geisler's Chosen But Free
- ESV Study Bible
- ESV MacArthur Study Bible
- ESV Reformation Study Bible
- NLT Study Bible
- HCSB Study Bible
- Nathan Pitchford, What the Bible says about the Doctrines of Grace
- Calvinism Fact Sheet by Joel Barnes
- Scriptures Supporting God's Full Providence and Sovereign Ordination of All Events
- God is Sovereign
- Verses showing God's Sovereignty, salvific work, and man's nature
- The Sovereignty of God, verses
- John Calvin
- John Gill
- John Gill, The Cause of God and Truth
- Bob Utley, You Can Understand the Bible: Study Guide Commentary Series (NT)
- Matthew Henry, Matthew Henry Commentary on the Whole Bible (Complete)
- Johann Albrecht Bengel, Gnomon of the New Testament
- Adam Clarke, Commentary and Critical Notes
- Cambridge University Press, Cambridge Greek Testament for Schools and Colleges
- Jamieson, Fausset, Brown, Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible
The Word software resources
Modules for the commentaries
Welcome to The Staunch Calvinist. This is a place where Calvinistic Theology will be displayed. A place where the Doctrines of Grace will be explained and defended. This is a place where the Sovereignty of God is cherished and promoted. We hope you will be ministered to through the material on the website. Our goal is to glorify the Lord Jesus Christ and honor Him. “May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.” 2 Corinthians 13:14
The following document may help you to understand the Biblical case for ‘Calvinism’: God's Absolute Sovereignty – A case for Calvinism.
I have two sections dedicated to the Doctrines of Grace: defining the Doctrines of Grace & defending the Doctrines of Grace, which are taken from the document above. In the general section, you will find some book reviews and the resources from which I mainly drew the content of the “God’s Absolute Sovereignty” document.
As a Reformed Baptist, I started the 1689 Confession section wherein I seek to explain the chapters and make a biblical case for what is said on a particular subject. As of 18/09/2016, the commentary is complete:
- Of the Holy Scriptures
- Of God and the Holy Trinity (the attributes of God and a case for the doctrine of the Blessed Trinity)
- Of God’s Decree (I make a case for predestination, election, reprobation and absolute sovereignty even over evil and sin)
- Of Creation
- Of Divine Providence
- Of the Fall of Man, Of Sin, And of the Punishment Thereof (Total Depravity)
- Of God’s Covenant (1689 Federalism)
- Of Christ the Mediator (including a case for the Substitutionary Atonement, Active and Passive Obedience of Christ, Definite Atonement and answers to passages used against the doctrine)
- Of Free Will (with the help of Jonathan Edwards, the consistency of moral agency being found in carrying one's desires, the inconsistencies of libertarian free will, explanation of necessity and inability)
- Of Effectual Calling (with a case for infant salvation)
- Of Justification (faith is a gift and regeneration precedes faith)
- Of Adoption
- Of Sanctification
- Of Saving Faith
- Of Repentance Unto Life and Salvation
- Of Good Works
- Of The Perseverance Of The Saints (A positive case for the Reformed doctrine and responses to passages such as Hebrews 6 and the like)
- Of The Assurance Of Grace And Salvation
- Of The Law Of God (Threefold Division of the Law, the Decalogue before Moses, a brief exposition of the Decalogue, ceremonial and civil laws, the abiding moral law under the New Covenant in the OT prophecy and the NT, Threefold Uses of the Law, The Law and the Gospel)
- Of The Gospel, And Of The Extent Of The Grace Thereof
- Of Christian Liberty And Liberty of Conscience
- Of Religious Worship And the Sabbath Day (A case for the Regulative Principle of Worship and the Christian Sabbath)
- Of Lawful Oaths And Vows
- Of The Civil Magistrate
- Of Marriage
- Of The Church
- Of the Commun...
The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! (John 1:29 ESV)
(For a better and more recent defense see here.)
Those who advocate the doctrine of Unlimited Atonement obviously take “world” everyone who has lived or will live, all without exception. Not world in the sense of many people, not world in the sense of from every “tribe and language and people and nation” as Revelation 5:9 would put it
Here is what the ESV MacArthur Study Bible says: 
John 1:29 The next day. This phrase probably refers to the day after John’s response to the Jerusalem delegation. It also initiates a sequence of days (v. 43; 2:1) that culminated in the miracle at Cana (2:1–11). the Lamb of God. The use of a lamb for sacrifice was very familiar to Jews. A lamb was used as a sacrifice during Passover (Ex. 12:1–36); a lamb was led to the slaughter in the prophecies of Isaiah (Isa. 53:7); a lamb was offered in the daily sacrifices of Israel (Lev. 14:12–21; cf. Heb. 10:5–7). John the Baptist used this expression as a reference to the ultimate sacrifice of Jesus on the cross to atone for the sins of the world, a theme which John the apostle carries throughout his writings (John 19:36; cf. Rev. 5:1–6; 7:17; 17:14) and that appears in other NT writings (e.g., 1 Pet. 1:19). sin of the world! See note on John 1:9; cf. 3:16; 6:33, 51. In this context “world” has the connotation of humanity in general, not specifically every person. The use of the singular “sin” in conjunction with “of the world” indicates that Jesus’ sacrifice for sin potentially reaches all human beings without distinction (cf. 1 John 2:2). John makes clear, however, that its efficacious effect is only for those who receive Christ (John 1:11–12). For discussion of the relation of Christ’s death to the world, see note on 2 Cor. 5:19.
The following is said by John Gill:
- and saith, behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world: he calls him a "lamb", either with respect to any lamb in common, for his harmlessness and innocence; for his meekness and humility; for his patience; and for his usefulness, both for food and clothing, in a spiritual sense; as well as for his being to be a sacrifice for the sins of his people: or else with respect to the lambs that were offered in sacrifice, under the legal dispensation; and that either to the passover lamb, or rather to the lambs of the daily sacrifice, that were offered morning and evening; since the account of them best agrees with what is said of this Lamb of God, who was slain in type, in the morning of the world, or from the foundation of the world; and actually in the evening of the world, or in the end of it; and who has a continued virtue to take away the sins of his people, from the beginning, to the end of the world; and their sins, both of the day and night, or which are committed every day: for as they are daily committed, there is need...
But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. 9 The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. 2 Peter 3:8-9 (ESV)
(For a better and more recent defense see here.)
This is one of what is called the “Arminian Big Three.” And it is huge when you don’t consider the context. All you see is that God doesn’t want anyone to go to hell, yet somehow being the Almighty, He is not able/willing to save them, but instead sends so many to hell, because they sin against Him. What people mostly miss is that this passage (v 9) actually is not referring to non-believers or the entire human race, but to God’s elect and we will see why. (Please understand that I am not saying that God loves sending people to hell, no, I totally believe Ezek 18:23, 32. But what I believe is that God is glorified in the damnation of the reprobate indeed, Prov 16:4; Rom 9:22).
The first thing we need to examine is to whom all these words refer to (you, any, all). It is clear from the greeting of Peter’s second letter to whom this letter is directed, “…To those who have obtained a faith of equal standing with ours by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ” (1:1), thus believers, God’s elect. 2 Pet 3:1 says that those recipients have had received another letter from Peter, that is 1 Peter and we directly see in v 1, “…To those who are elect exiles…” We see again at the beginning of 2 Pet 3:8 that Peter is talking to the “beloved,” a term used referring to Jesus or the believers. Thus we have established that the context and the audience to whom these passages are directed are fellow believers of Peter. In chapter 3 Peter warns his fellow believers about those who will come scoffing about the Second Coming, that it has not yet happened yet Jesus said that He will come soon. He tells them that this present Universe is stored up for wrath (v 7); time is nothing with God (v 8); God is patient toward His sheep, waiting for the ones who yet have to be born and/or be saved, so the Lord is patient toward His own and He’s not willing that any of them perish, but all of them come to Him (v 9).
In 2 Peter 3, the Christians – all God's elect are represented by Peter's audience as His beloved, even when they were dead in trespasses God loved them (Eph 2:1-10) and in love predestined them (Eph 1:3-6). It is for their sake that God is delaying the Parousia of our blessed Savior. God is waiting until the number of His elect is complete then He will send the Savior to judge the world in righteousness.
John MacArthur says the following in the ESV MacArthur Study Bible: 
2 Pet. 3:9 not slow. That is, not loitering or late (cf. Gal. 4:4; Titus 2:13; Heb. 6:18; 10:23, 37; Rev. 19:11). patient toward you. “You” is the saved, the people of God. He wa...
For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. 23 But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ. 1 Corinthians 15:22-23 (ESV)
Yes, in Adam all humanity spiritually died, through the inheritance of sin from our forefather Adam. He was the representative of humanity in the Garden. The phrase “in Christ” is used in Rom 8:1 (c.f. Rom 6:11; 12:5; 16:7; 1 Cor 1:2), which states “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus”, the believers are the ones who are not condemned (Jn 3:18) thus those who “in Christ shall all be made alive” are those who are “in Christ.”
In v. 23 we see who will be made alive and it is clear from 1 Cor 6:14 (And God raised the Lord and will also raise us up by his power, c.f. 15:52) that the believers are the ones whom God will raise up, not the reprobate.
The ESV Study Bible explains: 
1 Cor. 15:22 in Adam all die. See Rom. 5:12, 14–15, 17; Eph. 2:1, 5. in Christ shall all be made alive. See Rom. 5:17, 21; 6:4; Eph. 2:5–6. By divine appointment, Adam represented the whole human race that would follow him, and his sin therefore affected all human beings. Similarly, Christ represented all who would belong to him, and his obedience therefore affected all believers (see note on 1 Cor. 15:23).
1 Cor. 15:23 at his coming. When Christ returns, all his people from all time will receive resurrection bodies, never again subject to weakness, illness, aging, or death. Until that time, those who have died exist in heaven as spirits without bodies (see 2 Cor. 5:8; Heb. 12:23; Rev. 6:9). Those who belong to Christ demonstrates that the “all” in relation to Christ in 1 Cor. 15:22 does not imply universalism.
The ESV MacArthur Study Bible sheds some light: 
1 Cor. 15:22 all . . . all. The two “alls” are alike only in the sense that they both apply to descendants. The second “all” applies only to believers (see Gal. 3:26, 29; 4:7; Eph. 3:6; cf. Acts 20:32; Titus 3:7) and does not imply universalism (the salvation of everyone without faith). Countless other passages clearly teach the eternal punishment of the unbelieving (e.g., Matt. 5:29; 10:28; 25:41, 46; Luke 16:23; 2 Thess. 1:9; Rev. 20:15).
The HCSB Study Bible: 
15:21-22 Paul presents a parallel of necessary effects. Through one man, Adam, death came to humanity. If this is ever to be reversed, it must be done so through like kind: a man. God has appointed just such a man: Jesus Christ, who is fully divine and fully human. Through His resurrection the promise of resurrection comes to a new humanity "in Christ." The second occurrence of the word all refers to all those who are joined to Christ through faith.
15:23 Jesus' resurrection precedes and makes certain the resurrection of those who belong to Christ at His coming.
Here is what Johann Albrecht Bengel said about 1 Cor 15:22: 
1Co 15:22. Πάντες ἀποθνήσκουσιν, all die)...
For God has consigned all to disobedience, that he may have mercy on all. (Romans 11:32, ESV)
This is a verse I’ve seen used by Universalists and obviously they take the all’s to mean the whole human race without exception. But is this really what the verse teaches after the section of Romans known as God’s Sovereign Choice (Rom 9-11)?
It can be reasonably seen that all here refers to Jews and Gentiles, but not every single one of them that has lived or will live. The earlier chapters (9-11) very well emphasize God’s sovereignty in salvation. God has mercy on whom He wills (Rom 9:15), mercy only comes from God and it’s entirely depended on God (Rom 9:16). It seems then very inconsistent for us to take the all without exception rather than all without distinction.
A brief comment is made by the ESV Study Bible: 
Rom. 11:32 The word all here refers to Jews and Gentiles (all without distinction, not all without exception). The sin and disobedience of both Jews and Gentiles is highlighted, to emphasize God’s mercy in saving some among both Jews and Gentiles.
John Gill writes:
For God hath concluded them all in unbelief,.... Both Jews and Gentiles, particularly God's elect among them: some think the metaphor is taken from the binding up of sheaves in bands; and that Jews and Gentiles are the sheaves, and unbelief the band, in which they are bound together; but the apostle is not speaking of their being together in unbelief, but as separate, first the Gentiles, and now the Jews: rather it seems to be taken from a prison, and Jews and Gentiles are represented as prisoners, and unbelief the prison, in which they are shut up by God: not that God is the author of unbelief, or of any other sin in men; he does not put it into them, or them into that, but finding them in unbelief, concludes them in it, or leaves them in such a state, and does not as yet however deliver out of it, or say to the prisoners, go forth: moreover, to be "concluded in unbelief", is the same as to be "concluded under sin", Ga 3:22; that is, to be thoroughly convinced of it; and to be held and bound down by such a sense of it in the conscience, as to see no way to escape deserved punishment, or to obtain salvation, but by fleeing to the mercy of God in Christ:
that he might have mercy upon all: not upon all the individuals of Jews and Gentiles; for all are not concluded in, or convinced of the sin of unbelief, but only such who are eventually believers, as appears from the parallel text, Ga 3:22; and designs all God's elect among the Jews, called "their fulness", Ro 11:12; and all God's elect among the Gentiles, called "the fulness of the Gentiles", Ro 11:25; for whom he has mercy in store, and will bestow it on them; and in order to bring them to a sense of their need of it, and that he may the more illustriously display the riches of it, he leaves them for a while in a state of unbelief, and then by his Spirit thoroughly convinces t...
1 John 2:2
My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. 2 He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world. 1 John 2:1-2 (ESV)
(For a better and more recent defense see here.)
The first word to examine is propitiation. Propitiation (ἱλασμός, G2434) means the appeasement of (divine wrath of) God. Thus it means the forgiveness of sins as seen for example in Rom 3:25, 1 Jn 4:10. If we take the “sins of the world world” to mean the sins of every single individual who has ever lived, then we have Universalism on our hands, which is not consistent with the whole testimony of the Bible. Second, we know from the Bible that we have to believe to be saved, we need to have faith to be redeemed (Rom 10:9-10; c.f. “Repentance and faith are necessary for salvation”).
There is a passage in the Gospel according to John that is very similar to 1 Jn 2:2 and I believe it will help us understand what 1 Jn 2:2 is talking about. The passage is Jn 11:51-52.
|1 John 2:2||John 11:51-52|
|He is the propitiation for our sins,||…he prophesied that Jesus would die for the nation,|
|and not for ours only||and not for the nation only,|
|but also for the sins of the whole world.||but also to gather into one the children of God who are scattered abroad.|
John, as a Jew apostle of Jesus was talking to fellow Jew believers and telling them that God not only has a special love for Israel, but also for people/nations outside of Israel. That, Jesus didn’t only die for His people according to the flesh, but also for those who were not Jews, which was shocking to the Jews. This is almost the same message of love that God has for people/nations other than Israel in Jn 3:16.
So, when we put 1 Jn 2:2 and Jn 11:51-52 together to understand 1 Jn 2:2 better, we see that the Apostle is using the word “the whole world” in 1 Jn 2:2 not as every individual who lives or has lived, but more as the “children of God who are scattered abroad.“ And those are the ones for whom Christ died, the Gentile elect and the Jew elect.
The ESV Study Bible explains: 
1 John 2:2 Propitiation (Gk.hilasmos) here means “a sacrifice that bears God’s wrath and turns it to favor,” and that is also the meaning of the English word “propitiation.” (See note on Rom. 3:25.) As the perfect sacrifice for sin, Jesus turns away God’s wrath (see also 1 John 4:10). For the sins of the whole world does not mean that every person will be saved, for John is clear that forgiveness of sins comes only to those who repent and believe the gospel (see 2:4, 23; 3:10; 5:12; cf.John 3:18; 5:24). But Jesus’ sacrifice is offered and made available to everyone in “the whole world,” not just to John and his current readers.
The ESV MacArthur Study Bible ...
The LORD reigns
Eph 1:11 In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will,
Heb 1:3 “He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high.”
1Ch 29:11-12; Ps 115:3, 135:6; Rom 11:36; Col 1:15-17; Heb 1:3
Over life and death
1Sm 2:6-8 The LORD kills and brings to life; he brings down to Sheol and raises up. 7 The LORD makes poor and makes rich; he brings low and he exalts. 8 He raises up the poor from the dust; he lifts the needy from the ash heap to make them sit with princes and inherit a seat of honor. For the pillars of the earth are the LORD's, and on them he has set the world.
Ex 4:11; Dt 32:39
Good and ill; Peace and war
Isa 45:5-7 I am the LORD, and there is no other, besides me there is no God; I equip you, though you do not know me, 6 that people may know, from the rising of the sun and from the west, that there is none besides me; I am the LORD, and there is no other. 7 I form light and create darkness, I make well-being and create calamity , I am the LORD, who does all these things.
Job 2:10; Lam 3:37-38; Amos 3:6; 1Pet 4:19
The LORD’s Decree
Ps 33:10-12 The LORD brings the counsel of the nations to nothing; he frustrates the plans of the peoples. 11 The counsel of the LORD stands forever, the plans of his heart to all generations. 12 Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD, the people whom he has chosen as his heritage!
Isa 41:21-24 Set forth your case, says the LORD; bring your proofs, says the King of Jacob. 22 Let them bring them, and tell us what is to happen. Tell us the former things, what they are, that we may consider them, that we may know their outcome; or declare to us the things to come. 23 Tell us what is to come hereafter, that we may know that you are gods; do good, or do harm, that we may be dismayed and terrified. 24 Behold, you are nothing, and your work is less than nothing; an abomination is he who chooses you.
Isa 46:8-11 Remember this and stand firm, recall it to mind, you transgressors, 9 remember the former things of old; for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me, 10 declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done, saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose,’ 11 calling a bird of prey from the east, the man of my counsel from a far country. I have spoken, and I will bring it to pass; I have purposed, and I will do it.
Job 42:2; Ps 115:3, 135:6; Prov 16:4, 33
Sovereignty over and in the lives of men
Prov 20:24 A man's steps are from the LORD; how then can man understand his way?
1Cor 15:10 But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder t...