Confession The Faith–The 1689 Baptist Confession for the 21st Century

Chapter 16 – Good Works

1. Good works are only those works that God has commanded in his holy Word.1  Works that do not have this warrant are invented by people out of blind zeal or on a pretense of good intentions and are not truly good.2

1Micah 6:8; Hebrews 13:21. 2Matthew 15:9; Isaiah 29:13.

 

2. These good works, done in obedience to God’s commandments, are the fruit and evidence of a true and living faith.3  Through good works believers express their thankfulness,4 strengthen their assurance,5 build up their brothers and sisters, adorn the profession of the gospel,6 stop the mouths of opponents, and glorify God.7  Believers are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works,8 so that they bear fruit leading to holiness and have the outcome, eternal life.9

3James 2:18, 22. 4Psalms 116:12, 13. 51 John 2:3, 5; 2 Peter 1:5–11. 6Matthew 5:16. 71 Timothy 6:1; 1 Peter 2:15; Philippians 1:11. 8Ephesians 2:10. 9Romans 6:22.

 

3. Their ability to do good works does not arise at all from themselves but entirely from the Spirit of Christ.10  To enable them to do good works, they need—in addition to the graces they have already received—an actual influence of the same Holy Spirit to work in them to will and to do his good pleasure.11  Yet this is no reason for them to grow negligent, as if they were not required to perform any duty without a special motion of the Spirit. Instead, they should be diligent to stir up the grace of God that is in them.12

10John 15:4, 5. 112 Corinthians 3:5; 12Philippians 2:13; Philippians 2:12; Hebrews 6:11, 12; Isaiah 64:7.

 

4. Those who attain the greatest heights of obedience possible in this life are far from being able to merit reward by going beyond dutya or to do more than God requires. Instead, they fall short of much that is their duty to do.13

a supererogate
13Job 9:2, 3; Galatians 5:17; Luke 17:10.

 

5. We cannot, even by our best works, merit pardon of sin or eternal life from God’s hand, due to the huge disproportion between our works and the glory to come, and the infinite distance between us and God. By these works we can neither benefit God nor satisfy him for the debt of our former sins.14  When we have done all we can, we have only done our duty and are unprofitable servants. Since our good works are good, they must proceed from his Spirit;15 and since they are performed by us, they are defiled and mixed with so much weakness and imperfection that they cannot withstand the severity of God’s punishment.16

14Romans 3:20; Ephesians 2:8, 9; Romans 4:6. 15Galatians 5:22, 23. 16Isaiah 64:6; Psalms 143:2.

 

6. Nevertheless, believers are accepted through Christ, and thus their good works are also accepted in him.17  This acceptance does not mean our good works are completely blameless and irreproachable in God’s sight. Instead, God views them in his Son, and so he is pleased to accept and reward that which is sincere, even though it is accompanied by many weaknesses and imperfections.18

17Ephesians 1:6; 1 Peter 2:5. 18Matthew 25:21, 23; Hebrews 6:10.

 

7. Works done by unregenerate people may in themselves be commanded by God and useful to themselves and others.19  Yet they do not come from a heart purified by faith20 and are not done in a right manner according to the Word21 nor with a right goal—the glory of God.22   Therefore, they are sinful and cannot please God. They cannot qualify anyone to receive grace from God,23 and yet their neglect is even more sinful and displeasing to God.24

192 Kings 10:30; 1 Kings 21:27, 29. 20Genesis 4:5; Hebrews 11:4, 6. 211 Corinthians 13:1. 22Matthew 6:2, 5. 23Amos 5:21, 22; Romans 9:16; Titus 3:5. 24Job 21:14, 15; Matthew 25:41–43.

Confession The Faith–The 1689 Baptist Confession for the 21st Century

Chapter 15 – Repentance to Life and Salvation

1. Some of the elect are converted after their early years, having lived in the naturala state for a time and served various evil desires and pleasures. God gives these repentance to life as part of their effectual calling.1

awithout the Spirit
1Titus 3:2–5. 

2. There is no one who does good and does not sin.2  Even the best may fall into great sins and offenses, through the power and deceitfulness of the corruption in them, along with the strength of temptation. Therefore, God has mercifully provided in the covenant of grace that believers who sin and fall will be renewed through repentance to salvation.3

2Ecclesiastes 7:20. 3Luke 22:31, 32.

3. This saving repentance is a gospel grace4 in which those who are made aware by the Holy Spirit of the many evils of their sin, by faith in Christ humble themselves for it with godly sorrow, hatred of it, and self-loathing.5 They pray for pardon and strength of grace and determine and endeavor by provisions from the Spirit to live before God in a well-pleasing way in everything.6

4Zechariah 12:10; Acts 11:18. 5Ezekiel 36:31; 2 Corinthians 7:11. 6Psalms 119:6, 128. 

4. Repentance must continue throughout our lives, because of the body of death and its activities. So it is everyone’s duty to repent of each specific, known sin specifically.7

7Luke 19:8; 1 Timothy 1:13, 15. 

5. God has made full provision through Christ in the covenant of grace to preserve believers in their salvation. Thus, although there is no sin so small that it is undeserving of damnation,8 yet there is no sin so great that it will bring damnation on those who repent.9 This makes the constant preaching of repentance necessary.

8Romans 6:23. 9Isaiah 1:16–18; 55:7.

 

Westminster Catechism I. Repentance unto life is an evangelical grace,a the doctrine whereof is to be preached by every minister of the gospel, as well as that of faith in Christ.b

III. Although repentance be not to be rested in, as any satisfaction for sin, or any cause of the pardon thereof,e which is the act of God’s free grace in Christ;f yet is it of such necessity to all sinners, that none may expect pardon without it.g

 

IV. As there is no sin so small but it deserves damnation;h so there is no sin so great, that it can bring damnation upon those who truly repent.i

 

V. Men ought not to content themselves with a general repentance, but it is every man’s duty to endeavour to repent of his particular sins particularly.k

 

VI. As every man is bound to make private confession of his sins to God, praying for the pardon thereof;l upon which, and the forsaking of them, he shall find mercy;m so he that scandalizeth his brother, or the church of Christ, ought to be willing, by a private or public confession and sorrow for his sin, to declare his repentance to those that are offended;n who are thereupon to be reconciled to him, and in love to receive him.o

Chapter 14 – Saving Faith

1. The grace of faith, by which the elect are enabled to believe so that their souls are saved, is the work of the Spirit of Christ in their hearts.1  Faith is ordinarily produced by the ministry of the Word.2  By this same ministry and by the administration of baptism and the Lord’s supper, prayer, and other means appointed by God, faith is increased and strengthened.3

12 Corinthians 4:13; Ephesians 2:8. 2Romans 10:14, 17. 3Luke 17:5; 1 Peter 2:2; Acts 20:32.

 

2. By this faith Christians believe to be true everything revealed in the Word, recognizing it as the authority of God himself.4  They also perceive that the Word is more excellent than every other writing and everything else in the world,5because it displays the glory of God in his attributes, the excellence of Christ in his nature and offices, and the power and fullness of the Holy Spirit in his activities and operations. So they are enabled to entrust their souls to the truth believed.6  They respond differently according to the content of each particular passage—obeying the commands,7 trembling at the threatenings,8 and embracing the promises of God for this life and the one to come.9  But the principal acts of saving faith focus directly on Christ—accepting, receiving, and resting upon him alone for justification, sanctification, and eternal life, by virtue of the covenant of grace.10

4Acts 24:14. 5Psalms 27:7–10; Psalms 119:72. 62 Timothy 1:12. 7John 14:14. 8Isaiah 66:2. 9Hebrews 11:13. 10John 1:12; Acts 16:31; Galatians 2:20; Acts 15:11.

 

3. This faith may exist in varying degrees so that it may be either weak or strong.11  Yet even in its weakest form, it is different in kind or nature (like all other saving graces) from the faith and common grace of temporary believers.12  Therefore, faith may often be attacked and weakened, but it gains the victory.13  It matures in many to the point that they attain full assurance through Christ,14 who is both the founder and perfecter of our faith.15

11Hebrews 5:13, 14; Matthew 6:30; Romans 4:19, 20. 122 Peter 1:1. 13Ephesians 6:16; 1 John 5:4, 5. 14Hebrews 6:11, 12; Colossians 2:2. 15Hebrews 12:2.

Chapter 13 – Sanctification

1. Those who are united to Christ and effectually called and regenerated have a new heart and a new spirit created in them through the power of Christ’s death and resurrection. They are also further sanctified, really and personally,1through the same power, by his Word and Spirit dwelling in them.2 The dominion of the whole body of sin is destroyed,3and the various evil desires that arise from it are more and more weakened and put to death.4  At the same time, those called and regenerated are more and more enlivened and strengthened in all saving graces5 so that they practice true holiness, without which no one will see the Lord.6

1Acts 20:32; Romans 6:5, 6. 2John 17:17; Ephesians 3:16–19; 1 Thessalonians 5:21–23. 3Romans 6:14. 4Galatians 5:24. 5Colossians 1:11. 62 Corinthians 7:1; Hebrews 12:14.

 

2. This sanctification extends throughout the whole person,7 though it is never completed in this life. Some corruption remains in every part.8  From this arises a continual and irreconcilable war, with the desires of the flesh against the Spirit and the Spirit against the flesh.9

71 Thessalonians 5:23. 8Romans 7:18, 23. 9Galatians 5:17; 1 Peter 2:11.

 

3. In this war, the remaining corruption may greatly prevail for a time.10  Yet through the continual supply of strength from the sanctifying Spirit of Christ, the regenerate part overcomes.11  So the saints grow in grace, perfecting holiness in the fear of God. They pursue a heavenly life, in gospel obedience to all the commands that Christ as Head and King has given them in his Word.12

10Romans 7:23. 11Romans 6:14. 12Ephesians 4:15, 16; 2 Corinthians 3:18; 2 Corinthians 7:1.

Confession The Faith–The 1689 Baptist Confession for the 21st Century

Chapter 12 – Adoption

1. God has granted that all those who are justified would receive the grace of adoption, in and for the sake of his only Son Jesus Christ.1 By this they are counted among the children of God and enjoy the freedom and privileges of that relationship.2 They inherit his name,3 receive the spirit of adoption,4 have access to the throne of grace with boldness, and are enabled to cry “Abba, Father!”5 They are given compassion,6 protected,7 provided for,8 and chastened by him as a father.9  Yet they are never cast off10 but are sealed for the day of redemption11 and inherit the promises as heirs of everlasting salvation.12

1Ephesians 1:5; Galatians 4:4, 5. 2John 1:12; Romans 8:17. 32 Corinthians 6:18; Revelation 3:12. 4Romans 8:15. 5Galatians 4:6; Ephesians 2:18. 6Psalms 103:13. 7Proverbs 14:26. 81 Peter 5:7. 9Hebrews 12:6. 10Isaiah 54:8, 9; Lamentations 3:31. 11Ephesians 4:30. 12Hebrews 1:14; 6:12.

Confession The Faith–The 1689 Baptist Confession for the 21st Century

Chapter 11- Justification

 

1. Those God effectually calls he also freely justifies.1  He does this, not by infusing righteousness into them but by pardoning their sins and accounting and accepting them as righteous.2 He does this for Christ’s sake alone and not for anything produced in them or done by them.3  He does not impute faith itself, the act of believing, or any other gospel obedience to them as their righteousness. Instead, he imputes Christ’s active obedience to the whole law and passive obedience in his death as their whole and only righteousness by faith.4  This faith is not self-generated; it is the gift of God.5 1Romans 3:24; 8:30. 2Romans 4:5–8; Ephesians 1:7. 31 Corinthians 1:30, 31; Romans 5:17–19. 4Philippians 3:8, 9; Ephesians 2:8–10. 5John 1:12; Romans 5:17.

 

2. Faith that receives and rests on Christ and his righteousness is the only instrument of justification.6  Yet it does not occur by itself in the person justified, but it is always accompanied by every other saving grace. It is not a dead faith but works through love.7 6Romans 3:28. 7Galatians 5:6; James 2:17, 22, 26.

 

3. By his obedience and death, Christ fully paid the debt of all those who are justified. He endured in their place the penalty they deserved. By this sacrifice of himself in his bloodshed on the cross, he legitimately, really, and fully satisfied God’s justice on their behalf.8  Yet their justification is based entirely on free grace, because he was given by the Father for them, and his obedience and satisfaction were accepted in their place. These things were done freely, not because of anything in them,9 so that both the exact justice and the rich grace of God would be glorified in the justification of sinners.108Hebrews 10:14; 1 Peter 1:18, 19; Isaiah 53:5, 6. 9Romans 8:32; 2 Corinthians 5:21. 10Romans 3:26; Ephesians 1:6,7; 2:7.

 

4. From all eternity God decreed to justify all the elect,11 and in the fullness of time Christ died for their sins and rose again for their justification.12  Nevertheless, they are not justified personally until the Holy Spirit actually applies Christ to them at the proper time.1311Galatians 3:8; 1 Peter 1:2; 1 Timothy 2:6. 12Romans 4:25. 13Colossians 1:21, 22; Titus 3:4–7.

 

5. God continues to forgive the sins of those who are justified.14  Even though they can never fall from a state of justification,15 they may fall under God’s fatherly displeasure  because of their sins.16  In that condition they will not usually have the light of his face restored to them until they humble themselves, confess their sins, plead for pardon, and renew their faith and repentance.1714Matthew 6:12; 1 John 1:7, 9. 15John 10:28. 16Psalms 89:31–33. 17Psalms 32:5; Psalms 51; Matthew 26:75.

 

6. In all these ways, the justification of believers under the Old Testament was exactly the same as the justification of believers under the New Testament.18 18Galatians 3:9; Romans 4:22–24.

Confession The Faith–The 1689 Baptist Confession for the 21st Century

Chapter 10 – Effectual Calling

1. In God’s appointed and acceptable time, he is pleased to call effectually,1 by his Word and Spirit, those he has predestined to life. He calls them out of their natural state of sin and death to grace and salvation by Jesus Christ.2  He enlightens their minds spiritually and savingly to understand the things of God.3 He takes away their heart of stone and gives them a heart of flesh.4  He renews their wills and by his almighty power turns them to good and effectually draws them to Jesus Christ.5  Yet he does all this in such a way that they come completely freely, since they are made willing by his grace.6

1Romans 8:30; Romans 11:7; Ephesians 1:10, 11; 2 Thessalonians 2:13, 14. 2Ephesians 2:1–6. 3Acts 26:18; Ephesians 1:17, 18. 4Ezekiel 36:26. 5Deuteronomy 30:6; Ezekiel 36:27; Ephesians 1:19. 6Psalm 110:3; Song of Solomon 1:4.

 

2. This effectual call flows from God’s free and special grace alone, not from anything at all foreseen in those called. Neither does the call arise from any power or action on their part;7 they are totally passive in it. They are dead in sins and trespasses until they are made alive and renewed by the Holy Spirit.8  By this they are enabled to answer this call and to embrace the grace offered and conveyed in it. This response is enabled by a power that is no less than that which raised Christ from the dead.9

72 Timothy 1:9; Ephesians 2:8. 81 Corinthians 2:14; Ephesians 2:5; John 5:25. 9Ephesians 1:19, 20.

 

3. Elect infants dying in infancy are regenerated and saved by Christ through the Spirit,10 who works when and where and how he pleases.11   The same is true of every elect person who is incapable of being outwardly called by the ministry of the Word.

10John 3:3, 5, 6. 11John 3:8.

 

4. Those who are not elected will not and cannot truly come to Christ and therefore cannot be saved, because they are not effectually drawn by the Father.12  They may even be called by the ministry of the Word and may receive some ordinary working of the Spirit without being saved.13  Much less can any be saved who do not receive the Christian religion, no matter how diligently they live their lives according to the light of nature and the teachings of the religion they profess.14

12John 6:44, 45, 65; 1 John 2:24, 25. 13Matthew 22:14; Matthew 13:20, 21; Hebrews 6:4, 5. 14Acts 4:12; John 4:22; John 17:3.