Jared Smith, Covenant Baptist Church (Philippines)

5 An Explanation of Faith

1. Of the Holy Scriptures.

We believe the sum and substance of our faith is set forth in the scriptures of the Old and New Testaments. (2 Tim 3:14-17) These scriptures are plenarily and verbally given by the inspiration of God and therefore inerrant in all their parts. (2 Pet 1:19,20) God has preserved His Word through the Hebrew Masoretic Text and the Greek Textus Receptus. (Ps 119:89) The Authorised Version is the most reliable translation of the Bible in English which is the official translation used in this church. The Holy Scriptures are the only sufficient, certain and infallible rule of all saving knowledge, faith and practice. (Ps 19:7-11)

2. Of the One True and Only God.

We believe the scriptures reveal the one true and only God is Jehovah, whose essence is indivisible—Deuteronomy 6:4: “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD.” Moreover, the scriptures reveal that Jehovah exists in three distinct Persons in the One Godhead, equal in nature, power and glory—1 John 5:7: “For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one.” We reverence, serve and worship these three Divine Persons as the one true God. Furthermore, the scriptures declare that Jehovah is self-existent (Ps 90:2), self-sufficient (Ps 50:12) and solitary (Rom 11:34,35); that He is immutable (Mal 3:6) and infinite (Job 11:7); eternal (1 Tim 1:17), yet everlasting (Ps 90:2); immense (Job 22:12), yet omnipresent (Ps 139:7-12); that He is incomparable in blessedness (Acts 17:24,25), glory (1 Chron 16:23-29) and supremacy (1 Chron 29:11-13); that He is immortal (1 Tim 1:17), incorruptible (Rom 1:21-23), spiritual (Jn 4:24) and invisible (Rom 1:18-20); that He is omniscient (Acts 15:18), wise (Rom 11:33-36), faithful (Deut 7:9), true (Jer 10:10) and infallible (Rom 3:4); that He is good (Ps 34:8), holy (Lev 20:26), righteous (Ps 11:7) and absolutely just (Deut 32:4); that He is full of hate (Rom 9:13) and wrath (Rom 1:18), yet perfectly loving (Jer 31:3), gracious (1 Pet 5:10), merciful (Ps 136:26), forgiving (Ps 103:2,3) and longsuffering (Ps 86:15); that He is absolutely sovereign in the exercise of His will (Ps 135:5,6); that He is free to choose (Dan 4:34,35), omnipotent to perform (Rev 19:6) and prudent to design the grand scheme of history according to His good pleasure (Ps 93:1,2; Eph 1:11); that His purpose and plan are established in the eternal counsel of the Godhead, otherwise known as His decree (Ps 33:11; 148:1-6; Is 14:24-27; 25:1; 46:9-11); that election and reprobation are likewise ordained by the eternal choice of the Godhead, otherwise known as predestination (Prov 16:4; 1 Pet 1:2,3; 2:6-8); that He is the Creator and Owner of all things brought into existence, otherwise known as His creative acts (Rev 4:11); that He is the Governor of all things created through the linear movement of time, otherwise known as providence (Ex 10:1; Prov 21:1; Is 40:1-31); that He is ultimately a Jealous God, zealously protecting the excellency of His own glorious Being (Ex 34:14).

3. Of the Sovereign Grace of God.

(1) The Covenant of Grace.

We believe it is in the community of the Triune Godhead, that Jehovah drew up the plan of salvation (Covenant of Grace) (1 Jn 2:25), according to His eternal decree, before time was set in motion, or space and substance brought into existence (Eph 1:3-6). A covenant is an agreement entered by two or more parties, whereupon each person undertakes the responsibility for discharging certain obligations. Thus, the covenant of grace, agreed upon by the TriUne Jehovah (Mal 2:5; Tit 1:2; Jn 17:4,5), is comprised of the great work undertaken by the Father, and the Son and the Holy Spirit for the complete salvation of sinners. It is designated a covenant of ‘grace’ (1 Pet 5:10), because the sinner adds absolutely nothing to the terms and promises of the agreement (1 Jn 4:10; Gal 2:16; Jn 1:13)—salvation is solely the work of the TriUne Jehovah (Ps 3:8).

(2) The Work of God the Father.

God the Father took the lead in this covenant (2 Cor 5:18), choosing from the whole mass of the human race, a definite number of persons to be set apart as special objects of His love and others to be set aside as objects of His hate (not that He engendered great hostility towards them, but rather, He esteemed them less than the objects of His special love—Lk 14:26). This ‘mass of the human race’ is represented by the Apostle Paul as ‘the same lump of clay’—Romans 9:21: “Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour?” Hence, God the Father conceived of the human race in prospect of whom He would create, before having determined how these persons would be brought into the world, thus fixing the end (before the means) for which each person would be created—whether he/she would be an object of love, or an object of hate. Thus, His choice was not based on anything virtuous in the one, or vicious in the other, but rather, it was according to the good pleasure of His own will. This is affirmed by Paul when He represented this two-fold division of the human race by the historical figures of Jacob and Esau—Romans 9:9-13: “Sara shall have a son. And not only this; but when Rebecca also had conceived by one, even by our father Isaac; (for the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth;) it was said unto her, The elder shall serve the younger. As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated.” The electing love of the Father is special and particular, envisaging of the human race as individuals making up the whole—selecting one by one, individual by individual, person by person, name by name, those whom He would love. Hence, the Father knows each and every person, from head to toe, inside and out, and marking down the specific names of those set apart unto glory—for there is a book of life, in which the Father has inscribed every person’s name whom He has loved from eternity. (Rev 20:11-21:27) The objects of Jehovah’s love are designated the ‘vessels of honour’, whereas the objects of His hate are identified as the ‘vessels of dishonour’—Romans 9:21: “Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour?” All persons of the human race therefore stood on the same footing before Jehovah when He chose one and rejected another—the distinguishing mark between the vessels of honour and the vessels of dishonour rests entirely upon the good pleasure of the Father’s own will purposed in Himself alone. Thus, the Father is entirely free and absolutely sovereign in His choice of some (election—Jn 15:16; Acts 13:48,49; Rom 8:28-30; Eph 1:3-14; 1 Tim 5:21; 1 Pet 1:2,3; 2:9; 1 Jn 4:10-19) and His rejection of others (reprobation—Jn 6:64,65; 2 Tim 3:7,8; 1 Pet 2:6-8; Jude 4-6).

Having established the end for which each person would be created (Col 1:16; Rev 4:11), God the Father determined the means by which the human race would be brought into the world (Ecc 3:14,15; Acts 17:26). Time, space and substance would be called forth during a six day period (Gen 1:1-2:3; Ex 20:11). Man would be distinguished from all other creatures by two privileges: first, he would be given a spiritual capacity which would grant him the ability to have a relationship with God (Gen 1:26-28; 2:7; Jn 4:24)—the first man would be created upright, capable of serving and glorifying his bountiful Creator (Gen 1:31; Rom 5:12); second, he would be brought under the terms and promises of an earthly covenant (Covenant of Works) which would grant him the authority to have a relationship with God (Gen 2:16,17; Rom 5:12-21)—there would be three parts to this covenant. (1) The contracting parties would be Adam and Jehovah (Gen 2:16); (2) The terms of agreement would be perfect obedience to the law of God (Gen 2:16,17); (3) The reward for obedience would be eternal life (Gen 3:22), and the consequence for disobedience would be eternal death (Gen 2:17). Moreover, it pleased Jehovah to appoint Adam to serve as the federal head of the human race—all of his posterity would either stand or fall by his choice (Rom 5:12-21). Having been left to the freedom of his will, and without any inducement from Jehovah, Adam transgressed the Law under which he was made, and thus fell to a state of guilt and condemnation (Gen 3:1-7); consequently, he brought his posterity into the same miserable circumstances with himself—the guilt of his sin being imputed (Rom 5:12), and a corrupt nature imparted to all that descend from him by natural generation (Ps 51:5). Men are therefore born under the curse of the Law (Gal 3:10), enemies to God (Rom 5:10; Col 1:21), void of all that is good (Rom 3:10-18), and prone to all that is ill (Jer 13:23; 17:9), having neither will (Jn 1:13) nor ability (Eph 2:1-3) to do that which is acceptable to God (Rom 1:18), or to deliver themselves from their state of wrath and condemnation (Gal 2:16). Moreover, though the Covenant of Works requires perfect obedience to the Law of God in order to earn eternal life, it is not designed to enable a sinner to escape eternal death after transgressing the law of God—hence, there is nothing under the terms and promises of this earthly covenant that provides a means for salvation (1 Cor 15:22; Eph 2:8,9; Tit 3:5; Heb 2:3).

It pleased God the Father to direct the course of history that both the vessels of honour and the vessels of dishonour would be subject to the curse of the law (brought under the jurisdiction of the covenant of works), for as Adam sinned and brought condemnation upon himself, so sin and condemnation has passed unto all men (Eph 2:1-3). In this regard, the vessels of honour—those whom the Father had set apart as special objects of His love—would henceforth be identified as the vessels of mercy; and the vessels of dishonor—those whom the Father had set apart as objects of His hate—would now be designated the vessels of wrath—Romans 9:22-24: “What if God, willing to shew his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction: and that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory, even us, whom he hath called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles?” The vessels of honour are now called the vessels of mercy, because those whom the Father had set apart as the objects of His special love, are the recipients of His mercy unto salvation (1 Thess 5:9). And, the vessels of dishonour are now called the vessels of wrath, because those whom the Father had set aside as the objects of His hate, are subject to His wrath unto eternal death (Jude 4).

While God the Father was initially motived by love and hatred when setting these persons apart (Rom 9:13), He was then motivated by mercy and wrath when once He determined to bring the human race into existence and under the curse of the law (Rom 9:18-24). Only then was the love and the hatred of Jehovah brought into full expression—the hatred of Jehovah intensified, and His wrath poured forth, upon the vessels of dishonour (Rom 2:5-11); and the love of Jehovah amplified, and His mercy shed forth, upon the vessels of honour (1 Jn 4:9,10). Hence, the vessels of wrath receive to themselves the label “reprobate” (2 Tim 3:7,8)—for they have sinned against Jehovah and earned for themselves divine indignation; and the vessels of mercy are identified as the ‘elect’ (Col 3:12)—for Jehovah has secured for them the gift of salvation. It must therefore be noted, that the number of persons secured the gift of salvation cannot be added to or subtracted from (Ecc 3:14,15)—the Father has set apart a definite remnant of the human race which are alone privileged recipients of salvation (Acts 2:47); and, it is for them alone that salvation is forthwith designed and procured, provision being made for no others (Jn 6:37-40; 17:9,10).

(3) The Work of God the Son.

Having chosen both the end and the means for which the human race would be brought into existence, the Father devised the plan of redemption by appointing the Son to serve as the Federal Head for the elect, and for them alone (Rom 5:12-21). The Son willingly received this appointment (Heb 10:7-9), setting His eternal love upon the elect (Jn 17:1-26), receiving them into His hands (Jn 10:27-30), and becoming their surety (Jn 6:37-40) and His care (Heb 2:9-18). There is a correlation between Adam’s relation to the Covenant of Works, and the Son of God’s relation to the Covenant of Grace:

(1) As the covenant of works would require that God be just in condemning the sinner for his/her sins (Gen 2:17; Ez 18:4; Rom 3:23; Ga; 3:10; Heb 9:27), so in order for God to pardon (forgive) the sinner, it would be required under the covenant of grace that God remain just in the punishment of sin (Ex 34:7; Rom 2:1-3; 3:26; 14:11,12; 1 Pet 3:18);

(2) As Adam would be made the federal head for the human race under the covenant of works, so the Son of God would be appointed the federal head for the vessels of mercy under the covenant of grace (Rom 5:12-21)—as federal head, He would secure the blessings of salvation for the elect, by reconciling them to God (Rom 5:6-11; 2 Cor 5:18,19; Col 1:19-22);

(3) As Adam was given a human nature, in order that he might be qualified to stand as federal head for the human race (Gen 2:7), so the Son of God was given a human nature, in order that he might be qualified to stand as federal head of the elect—in the fulness of time, the Son of God would be incarnated (Jn 1:1-14; 1 Tim 3:16), in the person of Jesus Christ (Matt 1:21; Gal 4:4; Heb 10:5). He would be conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit (Matt 1:18-23), thereby bypassing the federal headship of Adam (1 Cor 15:45) and avoiding the imputation and impartation of sin to His person (2 Cor 5:21; Heb 7:26; 1 Pet 1:19; 2:22);

(4) As Adam was bound to perfectly obey the law of God, and made subject to the penalty of death, so the Son of God, in the Person of Jesus Christ, was bound to perfectly obey the law of God, and made subject to the penalty of death. The Father appointed the Son, in the Person of Jesus Christ, to be brought into the world, under the jurisdiction of the covenant of works, in order to discharge in His own Person and work that which is required of elect sinners (Gal 4:4,5). And, in perfectly obeying the law of God, Christ Jesus would earn for the elect what Adam failed to earn through his disobedience—the reward of eternal life (Rom 5:18). Moreover, though Christ did not personally transgress the law, yet He was qualified to be made a substitute for the elect who have broken the law of God—and this He did in order to redeem them from the curse of the law—Galatians 3:13: “Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree.” The payment required by the Father, for the redemption of sinners, would be the blood offering of a perfect sacrifice—Leviticus 17:11: “For the life of the flesh is in the blood: and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls: for it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul.” Thus, Jesus Christ became “obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.” (Phil 2:8) “He put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself.” (Heb 9:26) As “without shedding of blood is no remission” (Heb 9:22), elect sinners can only be pardoned by the shedding of “the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.” (1 Pet 1:19) Hence, all the iniquities of elect sinners were imputed to Christ, for “the Lord hath laid upon Him the iniquities of us all” (Is 53:6), and He forthwith “suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh.” (1 Pet 3:18) Not that Christ Himself became morally corrupt by the actual sins of His people being imparted to His soul and in His body, but rather, that the sins of the elect were imputed to Christ—that is, that the sins of the elect were put to the account of Christ—that He was reckoned by God a sinner, on account of the sins of others. Thus, by taking to Himself the sin debt, so He paid the debt in full (Jn 19:30)—suffering and dying, by offering Himself upon the cross at Calvary. Hence, atonement can only be made for sin by the sacrificial blood of Christ—Colossians 1;12-22: “Giving thanks unto the Father…who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son: in whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins…and, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself…and you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled in the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight:” And again, we read in Ephesians 1:3-7: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ…having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself…in whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace;” Thus, by the perfect and satisfactory sacrifice of Christ’s shed blood on the cross (Gen 3:19; Rom 5:6-11), not only would the wrath of God poured forth upon elect sinners be appeased (Heb 10:5-10), but the elect would also be delivered from their sin (original and actual—Ps 130:8; Tit 2:14), from their guilt of sin (Heb 9:14; 10:22), from their condemnation by sin (Rom 8:1,33), from the dominion of sin (Rom 6:1-23) and from eternal death and wrath to come (Rom 5:21; 1 Thess 1:10). And, by His one offering, all His represented people have a complete discharge from all their transgressions; for “by one offering he hath perfected forever them that are sanctified.” (Heb 10:14) It was for this reason, Jesus Christ offered Himself a sacrifice to God, and a substitute for sinners. Furthermore, as Christ came not to do His own will, but the will of the Father which sent Him (Jn 6:37-40), so the eternal redemption which He obtained by the shedding of His precious blood is intentionally designed for the elect, the sheep of Christ, who only share the special and peculiar blessings of it (Jn 17:6-10).

It is this plan of redemption that ensures Jehovah might be just, by measuring out judgment upon sin (in the person of Jesus Christ), yet the justifier of the ungodly, by pardoning them of all their iniquities—it is in this way elect sinners are released from condemnation and justified before God. Romans 3:24-26: “Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins…that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.” And again—“For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him. For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life. And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement.” (Rom 5:6-11) And, having been made a sacrifice to God and a substitute for sinners through His death, it was further appointed by the Father that the Lord Jesus Christ should rise again from the dead, in the capacity as federal head of the elect whom He has redeemed by His blood, that they might be fully justified, for Christ was not only “delivered for our offences,”, but He was also “raised again for our justification.” (Rom 4:25) Hence, just as the sin of God’s elect has been imputed unto Christ, so the righteousness of God in Christ has been imputed unto the elect—2 Corinthians 5:21: “For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.” Forthwith, in conjunction with this legal transaction of justification, the recipients of this grace are entitled to be called the children of God, for having been redeemed by the blood of Christ, and justified by the imputed righteousness of Christ, they “receive the spirit of adoption, whereby [they] cry, Abba, Father.” (Rom 8:15; Gal 4:5; Eph 1:5) And in addition to His death on the cross, and His burial in the grave, and His resurrection from the dead, it pleased the Father that the Son, in the Person of Jesus Christ, should ascend into heaven after His resurrection—Philippians 2:9-11: “Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” And it is in heaven, where He now sits at the right hand of the Father, that He assumes the appointed role as intercessor for His people, for—1 John 2:1: “We have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous,” “who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.” (Rom 8:34)

It is in this way that Jesus Christ made all that satisfaction for the sins of the elect, which the law and justice of God could require, as well as made a way of bestowment of all those blessings which are needful for them both for time and eternity. It is in this way Jesus Christ is the alone Saviour of the elect—“And thou shalt call His name Jesus: for He shall save His people from their sins.” (Matt 1:21) It is for this reason the elect acknowledge Christ to be their righteousness—Jeremiah 23:6: “And this is His name whereby He shall be called, THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS.” And, it is for this reason Jesus Christ is the only “mediator between God and men.” (1 Tim 2:5) As Mediator, the Son of God, in the Person of Jesus Christ, serves a threefold office: (1) the office of prophet—for it was appointed by the Father that He should reveal God to sinners (Jn 1:1-3,14; Heb 1:1,2); (2) the office of priest—for it was appointed by the Father that He should represent sinners before God (Heb 4:14; 5:1-10); (3) the office of king—for it was appointed by the Father that He should reign supreme over sinners (Phil 2:9-11; Rev 19:16).

And, all that the Father laid upon the Son, from eternity, the Son, in time, did fully accomplish. For, “When the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons.” (Gal 4:4) Herein are the vessels of mercy, the elect of God, the special objects of His love, secured eternal life through Jesus Christ the Lord, and are privileged to be called the children of God. This is the basis of salvation upon which every sinner has been reconciled to God throughout history—those living prior to the incarnation looked by faith to that future event when Jesus Christ would redeem His people; those living after the incarnation look by faith at that past event when Jesus Christ has redeemed His people. And, all praise and honour is due unto the Father and the Son, for God is not a respecter of persons, and has henceforth chosen and redeemed a peculiar people out of every kindred, and tongue and nation, irrespective of race, age, gender, moral virtue or sinful corruption.

(4) The Work of God the Holy Spirit.

Having manifested His love towards the elect, by the Father sending His only begotten Son into the world to be the propitiation for their sins, that they might live through Him (1 Jn 4:9,10), it pleased the Father and the Son, from eternity, to appoint the Holy Spirit to assume the role as sanctifier for the elect (Jn 15:26; 2 Thess 2:13; 1 Pet 1:2). The Holy Spirit freely agreed to this appointment, setting His eternal love upon the elect, and receiving them unto Himself (Jn 16:13-15). This momentous role agreed to by the Holy Spirit consists of His effectual work in the soul of the elect sinner. All that the Father and the Son have accomplished judicially for the sinner, will be experienced by the sinner when the Holy Spirit conquers his heart by grace. Hence, though elect sinners are secured redemption by Christ, and have been justified from eternity, yet they are unaware of Jehovah’s saving grace until the Spirit of God imparts to them a new life in Christ. There are two essential works of the Holy Spirit:

(1) Regeneration—otherwise known as the new birth (Jn 3:3-7), is that initial operation of the Spirit of God when He unites the soul of the elect sinner to the Lord Jesus Christ, by His immediate indwelling of the believer (1 Cor 3:16,17)—John 15:5: “I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.” Herein, a new nature is imparted to the soul, created in righteousness and true holiness—2 Cor 5:17: “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” This new birth is the alone operation of the Spirit of God, without the participation of the sinner (Jn 1:13; 3:8)—for the sinner has been conceived in sin (Ps 51:5) and is therefore subject to the sinful nature (Jer 13:23); he is dead in sin (Eph 2:1) and therefore incapable (Jn 3:6) and unwilling (Jn 1:13) to come to God (Rom 3:11); he is spiritually blind to the gospel of Christ (1 Cor 2:14) and is altogether void of faith or repentance that might lead him to salvation (Jn 6:63; Rom 7:18; 8:8). Subsequently, it is not the duty of the sinner to believe the gospel in order to be born again, but rather, the sinner believes the gospel, and the natural enmity of his mind to God is removed, and his heart sweetly softened and made willing to receive Christ, because he has already been born again. The soul, by the imparting of this new nature, is literally made “alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord”. (Rom 6:11; Eph 2:1-6) This new nature cannot be changed, or improved, or made more perfect, or rendered more righteous, than it already is, for “that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.” (Jn 3:6) Moreover, it is the personal indwelling of the Holy Spirit in the soul of the believer that comprises the strongest evidence to the believer that he is a child of God—Romans 8:16: “The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God.” (1 Jn 4:13)

Care must be given to distinguish between the work of Christ in justification, and the work of the Holy Spirit in regeneration:

(2) Sanctification—otherwise known as spiritual growth (2 Pet 3:18), is the continued operation of the Spirit of God wherein He effectually works in His people both to will and to do of His good pleasure (Phil 2:13). Having been united to the Lord Jesus Christ, as a branch is engrafted to the vine, so the believer is a partaker of the divine nature (2 Pet 2:3,4), bearing forth all the fruit of the Spirit (Gal 5:22,23). However, while the child of God has been endowed with a new nature in Christ, designated ‘the spirit’, he also retains his old nature in Adam, designated ‘the flesh’—and these distinct and unmixed natures, coexisting in the child of God, are in a constant warfare against each other—Galatians 5:17: “For the flesh lusteth against the spirit, and the spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would.” (Rom 7:15-25) Hence, spiritual growth consists, not in the improvement of either nature, but rather (Rom 6:11-14), in the deprivation of the old nature (Rom 13:14), and the feeding and exercise of the new nature (Gal 5:25; 6:8). Such are the blessings of the gracious covenant, that the Holy Spirit enables the child of God to walk in His statutes, and to keep His judgments, and do them, (Ezek 36:27), so that obedience to the gospel is secured by the provision of grace and strength to perform it (Eph 2:10). The rule which governs the life of a believer is the gospel law, as Jesus declared to His people when He told them, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matt 11:28-30)

(5) The Security of God’s Elect.

Thus, every person that has been chosen by the Father, redeemed by the Son and regenerated by the Holy Spirit shall certainly persevere in grace to glory (Jer 31:40; 1 Thess 5:23,24; Tit 1:2; 2 Tim 1:1; 1 Jn 2:25)—that all the perfections of Jehovah, all the merits of Christ, all the care and attention of the Spirit are employed in their safety—and that neither Satan, sin, nor the world, can cause them to perish (Jn 3:16; 10:28,29; Rom 8:28-39); their names being written in the Lamb’s Book of Life (Rev 21:27), they shall certainly be saved (Phil 1:6), and cannot finally be deceived or fall away (Jn 6:39).

W. Tucker

Fixed was the eternal state of man,
Ere time its rapid course began;
Appointed, by God’s firm decree,
To endless joy or misery.

Fixed was the vast eternal deep
Between the goats and chosen sheep;
Nor can a union e’er take place
’Twixt heirs of wrath and heirs of grace.

Yet erring men make much ado,
And strive to force a passage through;
But, ah! what vain attempt is this,
To strive to ford that deep abyss!

All glory to the great I AM,
Who chose me in the blessed Lamb;
Whilst millions of the human race
Will never know or taste his grace;

And blessings on atoning blood,
By which I’m reconciled to God;
And praise be to the Spirit given,
Who frees from sin and leads to heaven.

(6) The Appointment of Preaching the Gospel.

Having compacted under the terms and promises of the covenant of grace salvation for His elect, it pleased Jehovah to appoint His people to preach the good news of glad tidings to all nations. However, as the gift of salvation is earmarked only for the elect, and since the elect sinner can only experience this saving grace when the Spirit of God imparts to him a new nature, the gospel is not to be offered to sinners. For on the one hand, it is presumptuous to offer the gift of salvation to sinners whom the preacher knows not whether is one of God’s elect, and on the other hand, it is a misrepresentation of the nature of the gospel, for an offer suggests it is within the will power of the sinner to initiate his own salvation. Hence, while the gospel must be fully and freely preached to all sinners, yet it should not be presumptuously and falsely offered—2 Corinthians 2:14-16: “Now thanks be unto God, which always causeth us to triumph in Christ, and maketh manifest the savour of his knowledge by us in every place. For we are unto God a sweet savour of Christ, in them that are saved, and in them that perish: to the one we are the savour of death unto death; and to the other the savour of life unto life.”

(7) The Grand Scheme of Sovereign Grace.

And so it is, in the great scheme of human history, that Jehovah ensures for Himself the greatness, and the power, and the glory, and the victory, and the majesty: for all that is in heaven and in earth is His; and His is the kingdom, and He is exalted as head above all. (1 Chron 29:11) He draws glory, first, from the vessels of mercy, who are redeemed by the blood of Christ, and second, from the vessels of wrath, who are reserved unto judgment in accordance with His just and holy name. (Eph 1:3,4) Moreover, all things are now leading to a “resurrection of the dead” both of the just and the unjust. Christ will come a second time to judge the quick and the dead when He will consign the wicked to everlasting punishment and introduce His own people into His Kingdom and Glory where they shall be forever with Him. (Mat 25:31-46)

4. Of the Church of Christ.

The church is an independent body of baptised believers covenanted to follow the commands of Christ (Acts 2:41-47; 1 Cor 12:12-27). Christ has commissioned His church to preach the Gospel, baptise believers and to build up the members of the congregation in their most holy faith. (Matt. 28:18-20) The Lord Jesus Christ, as Chief Shepherd, retains absolute authority over His church (Col 1:18), by the governance and rule of His Word, the Holy Scriptures. (2 Tim 3:14-17)

The church has the right to receive members (Acts 2:41) and to exercise corrective discipline within the body (Matt 18:15-17). In accordance with the first church at Jerusalem, persons may be admitted as members by (1) “receiving the gospel gladly”, (2) then being “baptised”, (3) after which they shall be “added to the church” (4) and when in membership, “shall continue stedfastly in scriptural teaching, fellowship, breaking of bread and prayers.” (Acts 2:41,42)

The church also has the right to appoint officers, especially that of pastor and deacons (1 Tim 3:1-13). A pastor is the under-shepherd of Christ, identified in Scripture by the official title of ‘bishop’ (overseer), whose responsibility it is to feed and lead the Lord’s people in the Word of God. (1 Tim 3:1-7) The bishop (pastor) receives assistance from a group of deacons. These men are servants to the pastor and the church, who act as an advisory committee for both spiritual and financial matters. (1 Tim 3:8-13) As the bishop regularly instructs the congregation in the Holy Scriptures, (2 Tim 4:1,2) and the deacons support the ministry by example and encouragement, (Acts 6:1-6) the members are equipped to exercise the necessary discernment in making decisions on matters relating to itself. (Acts 1:12-26; Eph 4:7-16) Although a church may exist without appointing a pastor or deacons, yet it is most prudent for the congregation to pray that Christ will supply the fellowship with men who may fill these important roles. So long as a church is without a bishop (pastor), the members may receive edification through the gospel ministry of printed/audio/video sermons, or visiting preachers. However, care and discernment must be exercised, so as not to allow false teachings to corrupt the church.

The Lord Jesus Christ has given to His church two ordinances—Baptism and the Lord’s Table. Baptism is by immersion, in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, and is to be administered only to believers. Only baptized believers are to be admitted as members of the church. And only baptized believers, admitted as members of the church, are invited to observe the Lord’s Table. As the Lord’s Table is a church ordinance, it ought not to be administered in a private way to individuals, but to a congregated church only. It is a common practice for churches in England to observe the Lord’s Table on the first Sunday of each month, during which time special church business is discussed and decided. Although these ordinances are naturally overseen by a church officer (pastor or deacons), yet the church may appoint any member to administer them.

Whereas we are very sensible that our lifestyle, both in the world and in the church, ought to be “as becometh the gospel of Christ;” we judge it our incumbent duty to “walk in wisdom towards them that are without;” to exercise “a conscience void of offence towards God and men,” by living “soberly, righteously, and godly in this present world.” And as to our regards to each other in our church communion, we esteem it our duty, and our privilege, to walk with each other in all humility and brotherly love; to watch over each other’s conversation; to stir up one another to good works; not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as we have opportunity, to worship God according to the rules of the gospel. Moreover, we think ourselves obliged to sympathise with each other, in all conditions, both inward and outward, which God, in his providence may bring us into; as also to bear with one another’s weaknesses, failings and infirmities, and particularly to pray for, and with one another; and that the gospel and the ordinances thereof, might be blessed to the edification and comfort of our souls, and for the gathering in of others to Christ, even all God’s elect. All which duties and privileges we desire to be found in the performance of, through the gracious assistance of the Holy Spirit; whilst we admire and adore the grace which has given us a place and a name in God’s house better than that of sons and daughters.

Jared Smith