Chapter 26, Of the Church

Please note: The following are only rough notes for this chapter, and are not a complete commentary. But I am posting them in the event they prove useful until the commentary for this chapter is complete.

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  1. The catholic or universal church, which (with respect to the internal work of the Spirit and truth of grace) may be called[1]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. ( Hebrews 12:23; Colossians 1:18; Ephesians 1:10, 22, 23;Ephesians 5:23, 27, 32 )

The 1689 Confession, chapter 26, does not follow the Westminster Confession of Faith, but partly follows the Savoy Declaration and partly the Savoy Platform of Polity. Both of Savoy documents are from the Puritan Congregationalists.

John Owen, when he was a Presbyterian, opposed the Congregationalists view of church polity or government. While preparing to refute the Congregational form of church government, he became convinced that the Scriptures actually supported the Congregationalists view of church polity, and to his credit John Owen followed what he believed the Bible taught.  As a result, he left Presbyterianism, and became a Congregationalist.

John Owen was a major contributor to the changes the Congregationalists made to the Westminster Confession, calling their version the Savoy Declaration and the Savoy Platform of Polity. Other familiar names involved in the framing of the Savoy documents are: Thomas Goodwin, Thomas Hooker and John Cotton.[2]

The Congregationalists felt the church polity document should be separate from their confession of faith’. [3] It is in a separate section and is called the Savoy Platform of Polity–placed at the beginning of the Savoy Declaration.  The Savoy Platform states as its heading: The Institution of Churches, and the Order Appointed in Them by Jesus Christ, and there are30 sections under this heading.

The Savoy Declaration does have four paragraphs in their confession; presumably those are the truth they felt were universally applicable to the church, versus those not so in the Platform of Polity. To give some further perspective, the Westminster Confession has 6 paragraphs in chapter 25, Of the Church, and the 1689 Confession has 15 paragraphs. The Reformed Baptists used a portion of the Savoy Platform of Polity in the 1689 Confession.[4]

 

The catholic or universal church,

 

The Confession gives a synonym for the word catholic to help clarify the meaning, and that word is universal. The word “catholic” simply means “universal”, and should not be confused or associated with the Roman Catholic Church.  Why does the Roman Church refer to her as catholic?  She believes her to be the only true and universal church. Christ does indeed have one church, but the Roman Church is not a part because she denies the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ-a most serious matter.  So when the Confession uses the words he catholic or universal church, it means the actual true church of Christ.  The phrase “the holy catholic church is used in the Apostle’s Creed, and it most certainly does not refer to the Roman Church–written around A.D. 200.

 

 which (with respect to the internal work of the Spirit and truth of grace) may be called invisible,

The 1689 Confession adds the wording (with respect to the internal work of the Spirit and truth of grace) may be called invisible, which are not present in the source documents of the Savoy Declaration and the Westminster. Does this wording represent a change in theology from the source documents?  No, it adds clarification to the terminology of “invisible church.”

 

The 1689 Confession does not say that the universal church is invisible, but the Westminster Confession and the Savoy Declaration do: “The catholic or universal church which is invisible”. This leaves them open to misinterpretation, something the framers of the 1689 did not want to do.[5]

The internal work of the Spirit, the internal work of the truth and internal work of grace are invisible. In that respect the church is invisible, but the church is very visible in the world.  One must spend a little time to understand what these phrases actually mean before making use of them.  I hear people misusing the terminology–not understanding exactly what is meant.  Let’s look at a few statements from respected theologians about the invisible church:

R.C. Sproul states:

  • “The invisible church exists substantially within the visible church, but cannot be identified with it. It refers to the elect, those who make a genuine profession of faith.”[6]

Again Sproul states:

  • “The invisible church is made up of those who are truly in Christ, and it is called invisible because we cannot read the hearts of people. However, those who are God’s are known to him perfectly.”[7]

Hodge gives us this helpful paragraph to explain what the invisible church refers to:

  • “This Church is called “invisible,” however, (1) Because the portions of it at any time or place visible are immeasurably small in comparison with the body as a whole in its full complement of saints of all nations and generations; and (2) Because even in the sections of this body visible to us its outlines are very uncertain. Many who appear as parts of it do not really belong to it, and many may really belong to it whose union with it is not manifest. The lines are not to human eye drawn with any degree of accuracy between the Church and the world. In the meantime, the true Church, not yet perfectly developed and manifested, lurks in the phenomenal Church, as the grain of the growing corn lurks in the ear, and in this sense it is invisible. For that which constitutes the essence of this Church is not the visible profession or fruitfulness, but that invisible indwelling divine life, from which the profession and the fruitfulness proceed.”[8]   A. A. Hodge

 

The invisible church, consists of the whole number of the elect.

Of course, the Confession is not referring to the technical mathematical term “whole number” (i.e. a whole number, say three, versus a fraction of say, four fifths). By stating the whole number, it means the total number of those who are the elect. All of these elect make up the entirety of the invisible church.

The Confession also uses this word number elsewhere in reference to the elect.

  • “All those that are justified, God vouchsafed, in and for the sake of his only Son Jesus Christ, 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.” Chapter 12:1
  • “These angels and men thus predestinated and foreordained, are particularly and unchangeably designed, and their number so certain and definite, that it cannot be either increased or diminished.” Chapter 3:4

Election is a decree of God (thus the elect are predestined and foreordained for salvation), and since God’s decrees do not change, the total of elect individuals is known to God. The phrase, the whole number of the elect is a way to express the idea that each elect individual is part of a total number of elect, i.e. the invisible church made up of every single elect person.  This becomes important in light of the invisible church. Those who are a part of the invisible church are not only part of the whole number of the elect, but are those 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.

What do the Scriptures tell us?

  • And to the assembly of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, Heb 12:23 (ESV)
  • 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. Col 1:18 (ESV)
  • as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth. Eph 1:10 (ESV)
  • And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, 23 which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all. Eph 1:22-23 (ESV)
  • For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. Eph 5:23 (ESV)
  • so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. Eph 5:27 (ESV)
  • This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. 33 However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband. Eph 5:32-33 (ESV)

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  1. All persons[9] throughout the world, professing the faith of the gospel, and obedience unto God by Christ according unto it, not destroying their own profession by any errors everting the foundation, or unholiness of conversation, are and may be called visible saints[10]; and of such ought all particular congregations to be constituted.[11][12] ( 1 Corinthians 1:2; Acts 11:26; Romans 1:7; Ephesians 1:20-22 )

I know of someone dear to me who professes to be a Christian. Their profession of the biblical gospel is lacking, they are not obedient to Christ, they have destroyed their profession by living before everyone by an unholy lifestyle in deed and conversation, and yet he is officially a member of a local church.

Does such a person qualify as being part of the visible church, or a visible saint? No, such a person is not part of the visible church, or a visible saint. This list helps us move towards a better understanding of the term visible church and visible saint.  The visible saint is more than a person who attends church.

The visible saint and church consists of those whom we expect are truly Christians based upon visible signs.

Here are some examples of the proper and improper usage for these two terms: “While the members at my church—those in good standing anyway–are part of the visible church, we will know only in glory those who are truly part of that great number from all ages of the invisible church–that great host of Christ’s bride.” Or, “In glory, I will join with the rest of Christ’s invisible church in praising him forever.”  But to say, “In glory, I will join with the rest of Christ’s visible church in praising God,” is inadequate.  But it would be a correct to say, “This Sunday, I will join with the rest of the visible church in praising God.”

Just to be clear, churches that deny the gospel or omit it, endorse ungodliness, or are full of heresy, are not a part of the visible saints or the visible church.

  • “The truth also that since the Church is rendered visible by the profession and outward obedience of its members; and since no class of men are ever endowed with the power of discriminating with absolute accuracy the genuineness of Christian characteristics, it necessarily follows that a credible profession, as presumptive evidence of real religion, constitutes a person a member of the visible Church. By a credible profession is meant a profession of the true religion sufficiently intelligent and sufficiently corroborated by the daily life of the professor to be credited as genuine. Every such profession is ground for the presumption that the person is a member of the true Church, and consequently constitutes him a member of the visible Church, and lays an obligation upon all other Christians to regard and treat him accordingly.”[13]   A. A. Hodge
  • “One may not credibly profess to be a member of the invisible church while despising membership and fellowship in the visible church.”[14] Samuel Waldron

 

Here the Confession adds the that the qualification of a visible saint, are also the qualification of a visible church: and of such ought all particular congregations to be constituted.

  • To all those in Rome who are loved by God and called to be saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Romans 1:7 (ESV)

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  1. The purest churches under heaven are subject to mixture and error; and some have so degenerated as to become no churches of Christ, but synagogues of Satan; nevertheless[15]Christ always hath had, and ever shall have a kingdom in this world, to the end thereof, of such as believe in him, and make profession of his name. [16] ( 1 Corinthians 5; Revelation 2; Revelation 3; Revelation 18:2; 2 Thessalonians 2:11, 12; Matthew 16:18; Psalms 72:17;Psalm 102:28; Revelation 12:17 )

 

The purest churches under heaven are subject to mixture and error;

 

We can see this mixture in Christ’s direct address to the churches in Revelation 2 and 3.

  • “The church as Augustine taught, is always a “mixed body” in this world. It is made up of wheat and tares. Though the tares are in the visible church, they have no place in the invisible church. It is possible for a true believer to be in the invisible church, while not in the visible church, if providentially hindered or if temporarily blinded by false doctrine.”[17]    R.C. Sproul

and some have so degenerated as to become no churches of Christ, but synagogues of Satan;

It is hard to imagine that the Roman Church was not at the forefront of their minds when they wrote this, but of course this is not limited to the Roman Church. I prefer not to include Catholic when I refer to the Roman Church because they are not catholic, and in fact are not worthy of the title church.  Perhaps just Roman would be her fitting title.

  • Behold, I will make those of the synagogue of Satan who say that they are Jews and are not, but lie—behold, I will make them come and bow down before your feet and they will learn that I have loved you. Rev 3:9 (ESV)
  • And he called out with a mighty voice, “Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great! She has become a dwelling place for demons, a haunt for every unclean spirit, a haunt for every unclean bird, a haunt for every unclean and detestable beast. Rev 18:2 (ESV)

There many such churches today that were once Evangelical, and even some “Evangelical”–so-called– churches today have so minimized the gospel that they may not be so far from a synagogue of Satan.

 

nevertheless Christ always hath had, and ever shall have a kingdom in this world, to the end thereof, of such as believe in him, and make profession of his name.

  • “We need not fear that the name and church of Christ will ever vanish. Atheists predict it. Novelists write about it. Voltaire prophesied about it, but his home was turned into a place where Bibles were printed.”[18]  Samuel Waldron
  • And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. Matt 16:18 (ESV)
  • May his name endure forever, his fame continue as long as the sun! May people be blessed in him, all nations call him blessed!   Psalms 72:17 (ESV)
  • The children of your servants shall dwell secure; their offspring shall be established before you. Psalms 102:28 (ESV)
  • Then the dragon became furious with the woman and went off to make war on the rest of her offspring, on those who keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus. And he stood on the sand of the sea. Rev 12:17 (ESV)

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  1. The Lord Jesus Christ is the Head of the church[19], in whom, by the appointment of the Father, all power for the calling, institution, order or government of the church, is invested in a supreme and sovereign manner;[20]neither[21] can the Pope of Rome in any sense be head thereof, but is that antichrist, that man of sin, and son of perdition, that exalteth himself in the church against Christ, and all that is called God;[22]whom the Lord shall destroy with the brightness of his coming.[23] (Colossians 1:18; Matthew 28:18-20; Ephesians 4:11, 12;2 Thessalonians 2:2-9)

 

The Lord Jesus Christ is the Head of the church, in whom, by the appointment of the Father, all power for the calling, institution, order or government of the church, is invested in a supreme and sovereign manner;

The Father appointed Christ as the head of the Church.

  • All power for the calling
  • All power for the institution
  • All power for the order or government of the church
  • All power is given to Christ in a supreme and sovereign manner.
  • 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. Col 1:18 (ESV)
  • And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Matt 28:18-20 (ESV)
  • And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, 12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, Eph 4:11-12 (ESV)

 

neither can the Pope of Rome in any sense be head thereof, but is that antichrist, that man of sin, and son of perdition, that exalteth himself in the church against Christ, and all that is called God; whom the Lord shall destroy with the brightness of his coming.

There is only room for one Head of the Church. To illegitimately claim this headship is a serious and blasphemous thing–as the Pope does.

Some reject this wording in the 1689 Confession that indicates the Pope is the anti-Christ. He is certainly an anti-Christ, and perhaps one of the Pope’s will be the anti-Christ.  It is important to understand this statement in its historical context of the Reformation.  It is also important to understand how damning Roman Catholic doctrine is, and how damnable the Pope’s claims are to infallibility in matter of faith, and his Headship over the Church.

I do not find the wording particularly troubling because I keep in mind its historical context. And given that the statement is partially true the Pope is an anti-Christ.

Waldron states:

  • “Many of those who hold staunchly to the 1689 Confession doubt the value of its dogmatism regarding the pope being the antichrist. The writer is among these. This is one of those statements which would probably be deleted in a revision of the Confession. Such a deletion must, however, be made, not because of any weakening of our convictions about the apostate condition of the church of Rome or the wicked and heretical character of the claims of the pope, but out of exegetical conviction that the statement of the Confession is false or without adequate basis.”[24]                                                                      Samuel Waldron

Look at this language; can we really disagree with these descriptions of the Pope other than perhaps the antichrist wording?

  • “The antichrist”
  • “That man of sin”
  • “Son of perdition”
  • “That exalteth himself in the church against Christ,”
  • “and all that is called God;”
  • “whom the Lord shall destroy with the brightness of his coming.”

The Pope’s loss of power in the civil arena renders him almost irrelevant to Protestants today in terms of controlling power, but that was not the case in the late middle ages. Now we are free to disagree without consequence, but in the middle ages and Late Middle Ages that was not the case. It is grossly unfair to the Westminster Divines, the Congregationalists, and the 1689 framers to not fully consider the weight of their historical context in any of our criticism of this language.  Reformers–some of the best–were martyred under the office of the pope; let’s remember that.  Names like John Hooper, Rowland Taylor, Hugh Latimer, John Bradford, and Nicholas Ridley.[25]

One might say, that was then and now is now, but the Roman Church has not reformed in any significant way, and in fact, has become only more apostate. Even in modern times, Iain Murray points out how in the ecumenical movement–in ecumenical efforts to bridge the divide between the Roman Church by some—it was only the Protestants who gave way to compromise, the Roman Church gave nothing[26]—it seems she never changes her teaching, an attraction to some, but damning in the end.  I might point out the changes never happen retroactively–only moving forwards, and she changes her doctrine for the worse.

There is way too much friendship with the Roman Catholic Church by Protestants today—Protestants who do know their history or their Bible.

  • “The Holy Spirit is the Vicar of Christ. He is sent to carry on the work of Christ. His apostles are ‘universal overseers’ of the church and through their witness its foundation. Thus the work of the ascended Christ is carried out through their ‘witness’.  These ‘witnesses’ still rule Christ’s church through their inscripturated witness (the New Testament).  The Spirit is present to apply that word to the end of the age.” [27]  Samuel Waldron

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  1. In the execution of this power wherewith he is so intrusted, the Lord Jesus calleth out of the world unto[28] himself[29], through the ministry of his word, by his Spirit,[30] those that are given unto him by his Father, that they may walk before him in all the ways of obedience, which he prescribeth to them in his word. Those thus called[31], he commandeth to walk together in particular societies, or churches, for their mutual edification, and the due performance of that public worship, which he requireth of them in the[32] world. ( John 10:16; John 12:32; Matthew 28:20; Matthew 18:15-20 )

 

In the execution of this power wherewith he is so intrusted, the Lord Jesus calleth out of the world unto himself,  

This means in the carrying out (execution) of the power of Christ—the power the Father has entrusted to him—The Lord Jesus calls the elect out of the world and to himself.

 

 through the ministry of his word,

The Lord does this through his word—the gospel. See chapter 20 of the Confession for an expansion on this and the commentary.

 

by his Spirit,

It is not the gospel message by itself that effectually calls the elect to Christ, but the application of it by the Holy Spirit.  See chapter 10 in the Confession and commentary on effectual calling.

 

those that are given unto him by his Father,

  • And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd. John 10:16 (ESV)
  • And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” John 12:32 (ESV)

 

 that they may walk before him in all the ways of obedience, which he prescribeth to them in his word.

  • Teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Matt 28:20 (ESV)
  • “It is often said that while one church may be strong in the teaching of God’s word to God’s people, other churches may be strong in music, fellowship, social concerns, or evangelism. Such reasoning is false. Teaching the Word is an essential and central manward function of every church (1 Tim. 3:15).”[33] Samuel Waldron

 

Those thus called, he commandeth to walk together in particular societies, or churches, for their mutual edification, and the due performance of that public worship, which he requireth of them in the world.

It is implicit within this following passage in Matthew 18 that believers are to “walk together in particular societies or churches, for their mutual edification,” and for the purpose of ‘religious worship’.

  • “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. 16 But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. 17 If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. 18 Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. 19 Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. 20 For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.” Matt 18:15-20 (ESV)

In addition, through the apostles’ examples, actions and appointments, we also see the implicit mandate for the existence of the local church.

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  1. The members of these churches are saints by calling, visibly manifesting and evidencing (in and by their profession and walking) their obedience unto that call of Christ;[34] and do willingly consent to walk together, according to the appointment of Christ; giving up themselves to the Lord, and one to another, by the will of God, in professed subjection to the ordinances of the Gospel. (Romans. 1:7; 1 Corinthians 1:2; Acts 2:41, 42;Acts 5:13, 14; 2 Corinthians 9:13)

The members of these churches are saints by calling, visibly manifesting and evidencing (in and by their profession and walking) their obedience unto that call of Christ;

 

Those who are church member are first called to by saints by Christ, and only those are the ones who ought to be church members. This echoes back to the previous paragraph of the Confession.  Because thesechurch members are saints by Christ’s calling, they are to be manifesting or showing evidence of their calling by Christ and their obedience to that calling.  They are to evidence it by their talk and their walk (profession and walking).

  • To all those in Rome who are loved by God and called to be saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Romans 1:7 (ESV)
  • To the church of God that is in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints together with all those who in every place call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, both their Lord and ours: 1 Cor 1:2 (ESV)

 

and do willingly consent to walk together, according to the appointment of Christ; giving up themselves to the Lord, and one to another, by the will of God, in professed subjection to the ordinances of the Gospel.

Such called saints who are members—rightly so—of churches, who are manifesting obedience to their calling by Christ, ought to willingly walk together, as Christ has called them to (according to the appointment of Christ). They are to give themselves to the Lord and to one another as is the will of God, and to do so showing and stating their subjection to gospel ordinances (i.e. the orders or commands of the gospel).

  • So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls. And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.                         Acts 2:41-42 (ESV)
  • None of the rest dared join them, but the people held them in high esteem. 14 And more than ever believers were added to the Lord, multitudes of both men and women,                                                                                                               Acts 5:13-14 (ESV)
  • By their approval of this service, they will glorify God because of your submission flowing from your confession of the gospel of Christ, and the generosity of your contribution for them and for all others, 14 while they long for you and pray for you, because of the surpassing grace of God upon you. 2 Cor 9:13-14 (ESV)

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  1. To each of these churches thus gathered, according to[35] his mind declared in his word, he hath given all that power and authority, which is in any way needful for their carrying on that order in worship and discipline, which he hath instituted for them to observe; with commands and rules for the due and right exerting, and executing of that power.[36] (Matthew 18:17, 18; 1 Corinthians 5:4, 5;1 Corinthians 5:13;2 Corinthians 2:6-8)

 

To each of these churches thus gathered, according to his mind declared in his word, he hath given all that power and authority, which is in any way needful for their carrying on that order in worship and discipline, which he hath instituted for them to observe; with commands and rules for the due and right exerting, and executing of that power.

We see this important point in the Confession: To “’each’ of these churches”… “he hath given all that power and authority” … “for their carrying on that order in worship and discipline.”

Each local church is has been given the power and authority directly from Christ to carry out her own matters of worship and discipline. Each local church does not need authority from a human authority such as a presbyter or superintendent of the denomination to carry out these matters.

  • “In the letters to the seven churches of Asia in Revelation 2 and 3, the subject of church discipline is repeatedly emphasized by Christ, but each church is held solely responsible for its own members and their discipline.”[37] Samuel Waldron
  • “Presbyterians object to such independence for each local congregation under Christ on many different grounds.”[38] Samuel Waldron

It would be nice to have time to explore the Baptist vs. Presbyterian approach on this, but we just don’t have the time. But this is just a reminder that on this subject, Baptists have a great difference of opinion with the Presbyterians.

The following Bible passages show the local churches authority to handle its own matters.

  • If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. 18 Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Matt 18:17-18 (ESV)
  • When you are assembled in the name of the Lord Jesus and my spirit is present, with the power of our Lord Jesus, 5 you are to deliver this man to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord. 1 Cor 5:4-5 (ESV)
  • God judges those outside. “Purge the evil person from among you.” 1 Cor 5:13 (ESV)
  • For such a one, this punishment by the majority is enough, 7 so you should rather turn to forgive and comfort him, or he may be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow. 8 So I beg you to reaffirm your love for him. 2 Cor 2:6-8 (ESV)

In all these matters, we see Jesus and Paul showing it is within each congregation to do these matters, not for someone in authority over the church to do these things.  Paul respects the autonomy of each local church.

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  1. A particular church, gathered and completely organized[39] according to the mind of Christ, consists of officers and members; and the officers appointed by Christ to be chosen and set apart by the church (so called and gathered), for the peculiar administration of ordinances, and execution of power or duty, which he intrusts them with, or calls them to, to be continued to the end of the world, are bishops or[40] elders, and deacons. ( Acts 20:17, 28;Philippians 1:1 )

 

A particular church, gathered and completely organized according to the mind of Christ, consists of officers and members;

Completely organized means has finished organizing itself; it takes time and effort to build a church and to install elders and deacons, officers who may not be yet present or yet matured to the point of appointment to church offices.

Christ builds each church, and it must be done according to the mind of Christ.

We see two groups here:

1.Officers

2.Members

What follows is related to officers:

 

and the officers appointed by Christ to be chosen and set apart by the church (so called and gathered), for the peculiar administration of ordinances, and execution of power or duty, which he intrusts them with, or calls them to, to be continued to the end of the world, are bishops or elders, and deacons.

“The point of this paragraph is that Christ has appointed only two continuing offices in the local church—elders and deacons.”[41]  Samuel Waldron

  • “The norm is a plurality of elders in each local church. This is the clear implication of both the Bible and the Confession. No instance of a New Testament church with only one elder exists. Universally, a plurality of elders is mentioned (Acts 14:23; 20;17; Phil. 1:1; 1 Thess. 5:12; Titus 1:5; Heb. 13:17; James 5:14).”[42]   Samuel Waldron
  • Now from Miletus he sent to Ephesus and called the elders of the church to come to him. Acts 20:17 (ESV)
  • Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood. Acts 20:28 (ESV)
  • Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus, Phil 1:1 (ESV)

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  1. The way appointed by Christ for the calling of any person, fitted and gifted by the Holy Spirit[43], unto the office of bishop[44] or elder in a church, is, that he be chosen thereunto by the common suffrage of the church itself; and solemnly set apart by fasting and prayer, with imposition of hands of the eldership of the church, if there be any before constituted therein; and of a deacon that he be chosen by the like suffrage, and set apart by prayer, and the like imposition of hands. ( Acts 14:23; 1 Timothy 4:14; Acts 6:3, 5, 6 )

The way appointed by Christ for the calling of any person, fitted and gifted by the Holy Spirit, unto the office of bishop or elder in a church, is, that he be chosen thereunto by the common suffrage of the church itself;

Suffrage: “right to vote.”

  • “No one may be appointed to any office in the church without the consent of the church itself. The elders of the church itself may not appoint a man to be an elder without the consent of the church. No supposed higher authority may do this, whether that authority is a bishop, a denomination, or a pope.”[45] Samuel Waldron
  • And when they had appointed elders for them in every church, with prayer and fasting they committed them to the Lord in whom they had believed. Acts 14:23 (ESV)

 

and solemnly set apart by fasting and prayer, with imposition of hands of the eldership of the church,

Elders are to be appointed to their office (set apart) with fasting and prayer and done so in a serious (solemn way), and this appointing should be done by the laying of hands upon them by the elders already appointed.

if there be any before constituted therein;

If elders already exist, they are to lay hands on only the new elder/s for ordination.

  • Do not neglect the gift you have, which was given you by prophecy when the council of elders laid their hands on you. 1 Tim 4:14 (ESV)

 

and of a deacon that he be chosen by the like suffrage, and set apart by prayer, and the like imposition of hands.

The same applies to the appointing of deacons. They are to be appointed by congregational vote and appointed by solemn prayer and the laying on of hands by the elders already appointed.

  • Therefore, brothers, pick out from among you seven men of good repute, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we will appoint to this duty. 4 But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word.” 5 And what they said pleased the whole gathering, and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit, and Philip, and Prochorus, and Nicanor, and Timon, and Parmenas, and Nicolaus, a proselyte of Antioch. 6 These they set before the apostles, and they prayed and laid their hands on them. Acts 6:3-6 (ESV)

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  1. The work of pastors being constantly to attend the service of Christ, in his churches, in the ministry of the word and prayer, with watching for their souls, as they that must give an account to Him; it is incumbent on the churches to whom they minister, not only to give them all due respect, but also to communicate to them of all their good things according to their ability, so as they may have a comfortable supply, without being themselves entangled in secular affairs; and may also be capable of exercising hospitality towards others; and this is required by the law of nature, and by the express order of our Lord Jesus, who hath ordained that they that preach the Gospel should live of the Gospel. ( Acts 6:4; Hebrews 13:17; 1 Timothy 5:17, 18; Galatians 6:6, 7; 2 Timothy 2:4; 1 Timothy 3:2; 1 Corinthians 9:6-14 )

The work of pastors being constantly to attend the service of Christ, in his churches, in the ministry of the word and prayer, with watching for their souls, as they that must give an account to Him;

  • But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word.”   Acts 6:4 (ESV)
  • Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you. Heb 13:17 (ESV)

 

 it is incumbent on the churches to whom they minister, not only to give them all due respect, but also to communicate to them of all their good things according to their ability,

  • Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in preaching and teaching. 18 For the Scripture says, “You shall not muzzle an ox when it treads out the grain,” and, “The laborer deserves his wages.” 1 Tim 5:17-18 (ESV)
  • One who is taught the word must share all good things with the one who teaches. 7 Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. Gal 6:6-7 (ESV)

 

 

 

so as they may have a comfortable supply, without being themselves entangled in secular affairs;

  • No soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to please the one who enlisted him. 2 Tim 2:4 (ESV)

 

 and may also be capable of exercising hospitality towards others;

  • Therefore an overseer must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, 1 Tim 3:2 (ESV)

 

and this is required by the law of nature, and by the express order of our Lord Jesus, who hath ordained that they that preach the Gospel should live of the Gospel.

  • Or is it only Barnabas and I who have no right to refrain from working for a living? 7 Who serves as a soldier at his own expense? Who plants a vineyard without eating any of its fruit? Or who tends a flock without getting some of the milk? 8 Do I say these things on human authority? Does not the Law say the same? 9 For it is written in the Law of Moses, “You shall not muzzle an ox when it treads out the grain.” Is it for oxen that God is concerned? 10 Does he not speak entirely for our sake? It was written for our sake, because the plowman should plow in hope and the thresher thresh in hope of sharing in the crop. 11 If we have sown spiritual things among you, is it too much if we reap material things from you? 12 If others share this rightful claim on you, do not we even more? Nevertheless, we have not made use of this right, but we endure anything rather than put an obstacle in the way of the gospel of Christ. 13 Do you not know that those who are employed in the temple service get their food from the temple, and those who serve at the altar share in the sacrificial offerings? 14 In the same way, the Lord commanded that those who proclaim the gospel should get their living by the gospel. 1 Cor 9:6-14 (ESV)

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  1. Although it be incumbent on the bishops[46] or pastors of the churches, to be instant in preaching the word, by way of office, yet the work of preaching the word is not so peculiarly confined to them but that others also gifted and fitted by the Holy Spirit[47] for it, and approved and called by the church, may and ought to perform it. ( Acts 11:19-21; 1 Peter 4:10, 11 )

Although it be incumbent on the bishops or pastors of the churches, to be instant in preaching the word, by way of office

This is reiterating what has already been established in previous paragraphs: Bishops (elders) or pastors are to be preaching the word, as that is the primary part of the office they fill.

 

  yet the work of preaching the word is not so peculiarly confined to them but that others also gifted and fitted by the Holy Spirit for it, and approved and called by the church, may and ought to perform it.

The work of preaching the Word is not so peculiarly or particularly limited (confined) to the bishops, elders or pastors, that others also gifted and equipped by the Holy Spirit cannot preach the word.   Though they do not hold to the eldership or bishop’s office, they may teach and preach, but only if approved and called by church, i.e. the elders, or bishops or pastors by the consent of the members.

This is a wonderful liberty to the teacher, and benefit to the church.

  • Now those who were scattered because of the persecution that arose over Stephen traveled as far as Phoenicia and Cyprus and Antioch, speaking the word to no one except Jews. 20 But there were some of them, men of Cyprus and Cyrene, who on coming to Antioch spoke to the Hellenists also, preaching the Lord Jesus. 21 And the hand of the Lord was with them, and a great number who believed turned to the Lord. Acts 11:19-21 (ESV)
  • As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace: 11 whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.   1 Peter 4:10-11 (ESV)

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  1. As all believers are bound to join themselves to particular churches, when and where they have opportunity so to do; so all that are[48] admitted unto the privileges of a church, are also under the[49] censures and government thereof, according to the rule of Christ. (1 Thessalonians 5:14; 2 Thessalonians 3:6, 14, 15 )

 

 As all believers are bound to join themselves to particular churches, when and where they have opportunity so to do; so all that are admitted unto the privileges of a church,

 

The Biblical proof texts listed by the framers of the Confession, seem to indicate the Confession is aiming a warning at those who do not join themselves to a church– when they have opportunity to. As well, the warning seems to be aimed at those who associate with those who do not join themselves to a church due to idleness and a disregard for the Scriptures (the apostle’s teachings to not forsake the gathering together, etc.).  We should not regard such a one as an enemy, but warn him as a brother.

  • And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all. 1 Thess 5:14 (ESV)
  • Now we command you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you keep away from any brother who is walking in idleness and not in accord with the tradition that you received from us.   2 Thess 3:6 (ESV)
  • If anyone does not obey what we say in this letter, take note of that person, and have nothing to do with him, that he may be ashamed. 15 Do not regard him as an enemy, but warn him as a brother. 2 Thess 3:14-15 (ESV)

 

are also under the censures and government thereof, according to the rule of Christ.

Censures: official condemnation or approval.

This means that the member of the church is not only under the blessing or benefit of the church, but also submits to the discipline of the elders.

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  1. No church members, upon any offence taken by them, having performed their duty required of them towards the person they are offended at, ought to disturb any church-order, or absent themselves from the assemblies of the church, or administration of any ordinances, upon the account of such offence at any of their fellow members, but to wait upon Christ, in the further proceeding of the church. ( Matthew 18:15-17; Ephesians 4:2, 3 )

No church members, upon any offence taken by them, having performed their duty required of them towards the person they are offended at,

  • “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. 16 But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. 17 If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. Matt 18:15-17 (ESV)

Here is the potential situation where Matthew 18 is followed:

Step 1: If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. Mt. 18:15

  • The church member has gone to another church member privately and exhorted him to repent of sin.

Step 2: But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. Mt. 18:16

  • Perhaps this step has not been accomplished by the elders, assuming the two or three witnesses are elders. Or perhaps it was done by two or three other brothers in the church, and this has been relayed to the church, with no action from the church.

Step 3: If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. Mt. 18:17

  • This step has perhaps not been done. We presume the 1689 Confession is addressing a potential situation where only step 1 has been done, possibly step 2, and although the matter has been brought to the attention of the elders, they have not yet taken action (or perhaps have decided not to). In such cases, the Confession has the following instructions of what not to do.

 

ought to disturb any church-order, or absent themselves from the assemblies of the church, or administration of any ordinances, upon the account of such offence at any of their fellow members,

Here is what to do.

but to wait upon Christ, in the further proceeding of the church.

  • with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, 3 eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. Eph 4:2-3 (ESV)
  • “In our day, when the situation envisaged in this paragraph would be viewed as a clear warrant for a church split, the teaching of this paragraph is radical. “What!” Someone says, “Just wait? What about how offended I am?  You mean I do not have the right to just leave for another church? [50]   Samuel Waldron

Waldron continues:

  • “The regulative importance of Christ’s presence for our conduct in the church must also be remembered (Matt. 28:20). The precise words of the Confession are that we should ‘wait upon Christ in the further proceeding of the church’. Is Christ present? Are you in a true church with qualified pastors?  Then even if the church has temporarily delayed or even miscarried in its obedience to Christ, should not your posture be one of prayerful waiting on Christ to vindicate you?  Hastily disturbing the peace of the church and precipitously leaving it are a manifestation that you are held in the grip of unbelief.  You are saying that Christ is not present in the church!”[51]  Samuel Waldron

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  1. As each church[52], and all the members of it, are bound to pray continually for the good and prosperity of all the churches of Christ, in all places, and upon all occasions to further every one within the bounds of their places and callings, in the exercise of their gifts and graces, so the churches, when planted by the providence of God, so as they may enjoy opportunity and advantage for it, ought to hold communion among themselves, for their peace, increase of love, and mutual edification.(Ephesians 6:18; Psalms 122:6; Romans 16:1, 2; 3 John 8-10 )

 

As each church, and all the members of it, are bound to pray continually for the good and prosperity of all the churches of Christ, in all places, and upon all occasions to further every one within the bounds of their places and callings, in the exercise of their gifts and graces, so the churches, when planted by the providence of God,

We are bound to pray for all the churches of Christ, meaning those that meet the ‘visible church’ criteria. Most certainly, we should pray for the churches of our association.

  • Praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, Eph 6:18 (ESV)
  • Pray for the peace of Jerusalem! “May they be secure who love you! Psalms 122:6 (ESV)

We see here the limitations of the local church.

 

so as they may enjoy opportunity and advantage for it, ought to hold communion among themselves, for their peace, increase of love, and mutual edification.

These are the things we should pray for and the reasons.

  • I commend to you our sister Phoebe, a servant of the church at Cenchreae, 2 that you may welcome her in the Lord in a way worthy of the saints, and help her in whatever she may need from you, for she has been a patron of many and of myself as well. Romans 16:1-2 (ESV)
  • Therefore we ought to support people like these, that we may be fellow workers for the truth. 9 I have written something to the church, but Diotrephes, who likes to put himself first, does not acknowledge our authority. 10 So if I come, I will bring up what he is doing, talking wicked nonsense against us. And not content with that, he refuses to welcome the brothers, and also stops those who want to and puts them out of the church. 3 John 1:8-10 (ESV)

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  1. In cases of difficulties or differences, either in point of doctrine or administration, wherein either the churches in general are concerned, or any one church, in their peace, union, and edification; or any member or members of any church are injured, in or by any proceedings[53] in censures not agreeable to truth and order: it is according to the mind of Christ, that many churches holding communion together, do, by their messengers, meet to consider, and give their advice in or about that matter in difference, to be reported to all the churches concerned; howbeit these messengers assembled, are not intrusted with any church-power properly so called; or with any jurisdiction over the churches themselves, to exercise any censures either over any churches or persons; or to impose their determination on the churches or officers. ( Acts 15:2, 4, 6, 22, 23, 25;2 Corinthians 1:24;1 John 4:1 )

 

 In cases of difficulties or differences, either in point of doctrine or administration, wherein either the churches in general are concerned, or any one church, in their peace, union, and edification; or any member or members of any church are injured, in or by any proceedings in censures not agreeable to truth and order: it is according to the mind of Christ, that many churches holding communion together, do, by their messengers, meet to consider, and give their advice in or about that matter in difference, to be reported to all the churches concerned;

This is a rather long and complex sentence. In short, it is stating:

  • In cases of difficulty or differences in relation to churches in general, any one church or a member/s of a church that it is according to Christ’s mind to meet together for counsel and advise to resolve the difficulty. This could be done by sending representatives to give advice and report back to the churches the results of the meetings.

 

that many churches holding communion together,

It is important to note the wording of “churches holding communion together.” This would restrict the churches meeting together to fit that limitation.

Our church is associated with the Association of Reformed Baptist Churches of America (ARBCA) and once a year general assembly meetings are held. There is much communion within ARBCA.  There have been times that doctrinal issues or church practice matters come to the assembly.  Those issues are discussed and if there is a proposed solution they is brought to the local church for them to determine what ought to be done.

Here we see an example in Acts of such an association meeting of those holding communion together[brackets and bold are mine inserted for commentary purposes]:

  • And after Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and debate with them, [difficulties or differences] Paul and Barnabas and some of the others [messengers] were appointed to go up to Jerusalem to the apostles and the elders about this question. [meet to consider] 3 So, being sent on their way by the church, they passed through both Phoenicia and Samaria, describing in detail the conversion of the Gentiles, and brought great joy to all the brothers. 4 When they came to Jerusalem, they were welcomed by the church and the apostles and the elders, and they declared all that God had done with them. 5 But some believers who belonged to the party of the Pharisees rose up and said, “It is necessary to circumcise them and to order them to keep the law of Moses.” 6 The apostles and the elders were gathered together to consider this matter. Acts 15:2-6 (ESV)

There was the advice:

Peter said: [to give their advice]

  • But we believe that we will be saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, just as they will.”   Acts 15:11 (ESV)

James said: [to give their advice]

  • “Brothers, listen to me. Simeon has related how God first visited the Gentiles, to take from them a people for his name.” Acts 15:13-14 (ESV)
  • Therefore my judgment is that we should not trouble those of the Gentiles who turn to God, 20 but should write to them to abstain from the things polluted by idols, and from sexual immorality, and from what has been strangled, and from blood. 21 For from ancient generations Moses has had in every city those who proclaim him, for he is read every Sabbath in the synagogues.”   Acts 15:19-21 (ESV)

A general consensus was reached and reports given:

  • Then it seemed good to the apostles and the elders, with the whole church, to choose men from among them and send them to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas. They sent Judas called Barsabbas, and Silas, leading men among the brothers, 23 with the following letter: [to be reported to all the churches involved]
  • “The brothers, both the apostles and the elders, to the brothers who are of the Gentiles in Antioch and Syria and Cilicia, greetings. 24 Since we have heard that some persons have gone out from us and troubled you with words, unsettling your minds, although we gave them no instructions, 25 it has seemed good to us, having come to one accord, to choose men and send them to you with our beloved Barnabas and Paul, 26 men who have risked their lives for the sake of our Lord Jesus Christ. 27 We have therefore sent Judas and Silas, who themselves will tell you the same things by word of mouth. 28 For it has seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us to lay on you no greater burden than these requirements: 29 that you abstain from what has been sacrificed to idols, and from blood, and from what has been strangled, and from sexual immorality. If you keep yourselves from these, you will do well. Farewell.” Acts 15:23-29 (ESV)

 

 howbeit these messengers assembled, are not intrusted with any church-power properly so called; or with any jurisdiction over the churches themselves, to exercise any censures either over any churches or persons; or to impose their determination on the churches or officers.

The results of the meeting are to be reported, but the results of the general meeting do not have the authority over the specific local church.  The results will be up to the elders to apply to the local church or not.

Here we see a Baptist church polity, as opposed to a Presbyterian polity. The Presbyterian’s would force the results of the general meeting upon all the churches in their presbytery.

 

The 1689 Confession presents as biblical the independence and liberty of each local church to be in charge of their own matters, by the dictates of Scripture.

  • Not that we lord it over your faith, but we work with you for your joy, for you stand firm in your faith. 2 Cor 1:24 (ESV)
  • Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world. 1 John 4:1 (ESV)
  • “Hebrews 13:17 equates the leaders of the church with governors, given charge by a king over a province of his kingdom. Such governors may seek advice from one another, but they are legally responsible only to the king.”[54] Samuel Waldron

So we have the 1689 Confession making a bold statement about church government, not merely leaving everything related to church government up to the liberty of the group of believers.

It is important that those things which are clear in Scripture in relation to the church be adhered to. In these 15 sections many important and necessary matters have been addressed; these things which are prescriptive, not merely descriptive in the Scriptures.

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[1] The 1689 Confession adds this to the WCF and the Savoy. The source is presumably Collins.

[2] Source: http://www.reformedbaptistinstitute.org/?p=87.

[3] They stated: We have endeavored throughout, to hold to such Truths in this our Confession, as are more properly termed matters of Faith; and what is of Church-order, we dispose in certain Propositions by it self. To this course we are led by the Example of the Honorable Houses of Parliament, observing what was established, and what omitted by them in that Confession the Assembly presented to them.  Who thought it not convenient to have matters of Discipline and Church-Government put into a Confession of Faith, especially such particulars thereof, as then were, and still are controverted and under dispute by men Orthodox and sound in Faith. . . . There being nothing that tends more to heighten dissentings among Brethren, then to determine and adopt the matter of their difference, under so high a title, as to be an Article of our Faith.” This quote isfrom thePrefaceto theSavoy Declaration, Williston Walker, The Creeds and Platforms of Congregationalism(New York: The Pilgrim Press, 1991 reprint), 363. I credit obtaining this from an article written on the Reformed Baptist Institutes website: http://www.reformedbaptistinstitute.org/?p=88#_ftn1.

[4] This is briefly addressed in these articles: http://www.reformedbaptistinstitute.org/?p=87 and http://www.reformedbaptistinstitute.org/?p=88#_ftn1.

[5] In all fairness, the 1689 framers had the advantage of improving something already existing, and that is something the Westminster divines did not have. So I am not implying the 1689 is superior in a way that is critical of the source document.  Further, just because a document can be misinterpreted, it does not mean the misinterpretation is what the divines meant.  A reading of the whole Westminster Confession will often straighten out misinterpretations, but the 1689 framers placed their clarifying statement in the context where it was needed most.

[6] R.C. Sproul, Truths We Confess (P&R Publishing, New Jersey), Volume III, pg. 44.

[7] R.C. Sproul, Truths We Confess (P&R Publishing, New Jersey), Volume III, pg. 44.

[8] A.A. Hodge, The Westminster Commentary: A Commentary (The Banner of Truth Trust, Edinburgh), pg. 312.

[9] The 1689 Confession adds this to the Savoy in lieu of “The whole body of men.” The WCF wording is not used in section 2.  See footnote below.  Most the 1689 Confession wording comes from the Savoy.  See footnote 4 for the portion that is not from the Savoy.

[10] Notice the absence of the phrase “visible church” though that is suggested later in paragraph two. We should not make too much of this change; again, it is more of a clarification than anything else.  The Savoy Declaration uses “visible church.”  I think it makes the qualification list personal by referring to the saint.  IT is added at the end that all churches ought to be so constituted, and so local church and saint are held to this standard.

[11] The WCF wording is not used in section 2 of the 1689 Confession. A portion is used from the Savoy Declaration.  The only wording in the 1689 Confession that is the same as the WCF is “throughout the world.”  Here is the wording of the Savoy that the 1689 Confession did not follow: “the visible catholic church of Christ; although as such it is not entrusted with the administration of any ordinances, or have any officers to rule or govern in, or over the whole body.”

[12] This underlined portion varies from the Savoy. The source is presumably Collins.

[13] A.A. Hodge, The Westminster Commentary: A Commentary (The Banner of Truth Trust, Edinburgh), pg. 313.

[14] Samuel Waldron, 1689 Baptist Confession of Faith: A Modern Exposition (Evangelical Press, Darlington, England), pg. 313.

[15] The 1689 Confession does not use section 3 of the WCF, however, this italicized portion is from the WCF section 5. The 1689 Confession does not follow the entire section 5 though of the WCF.  The source of the entire section 3 in the 1689 Confession is the Savoy.  We can see here that the primary source of the 1689 Confession was the Savoy, but because the Savoy used the WCF by default the 1689 Confession and the WCF share almost as much with the WCF as the Savoy.

[16] The 1689 Confession adds this to the WCF. The Savoy is the source.

[17] R.C. Sproul, Truths We Confess (P&R Publishing, New Jersey), Volume III, pg. 44.

[18] Samuel Waldron, 1689 Baptist Confession of Faith: A Modern Exposition (Evangelical Press, Darlington, England), pg. 314-315.

[19] The 1689 Confession adds this to the WCF and the Savoy in lieu of the following in the WCF and the Savoy: “There is no other head of the Church but the Lord Jesus Christ.” The source is presumably Collins. This entire section does not utilize the WCF.

[20] The 1689 Confession adds this to the WCF and the source is the underlined portion is from the Savoy Platform of Polity.

[21] The 1689 Confession adds this to the WCF. The source is presumably Collins.

[22] The 1689 Confession uses the WCF wording here from the WCF section 6.

[23] The 1689 Confession uses the Savoy declaration in this italicized portion.

[24] Samuel Waldron, 1689 Baptist Confession of Faith: A Modern Exposition (Evangelical Press, Darlington, England), pg. 315.

[25] See J.C. Ryle, Five English Reformers (The Banner Truth Trust, Edinburgh).

[26] Iain Murray, Evangelicalism Divided: A Record of Crucial Change in the Years 1950-2000 (The Banner of Truth Trust, Edinburgh: 2000), pg. 245. “The only real “success” has occurred where supposedly Protestant negotiators have given way to Roman Catholic teaching.  This happened in ARCIC discussions, as already noted, and in Lutheran discussions with Rome.  At the outset Roman spokesman in such discussions adopt an accommodating posture.  In the course of discussions the other side make all the serious concessions, and only in the end is it apparent that nothing in the official Roman teaching can be subject to change [retroactive change that is].” The brackets are  mine.  Also Murray states: The Pope underlined the same lesson in his encyclical letter Ut Unum Sint in 1995 when he warned all Roman Catholics engaged in ecumenical dialoge to ‘stand by the teaching of the Church’—page 245.

[27] Samuel Waldron, 1689 Baptist Confession of Faith: A Modern Exposition (Evangelical Press, Darlington, England), pg. 315-316.

[28] The 1689 Confession omits “Communion with himself” here from the Savoy Platform of Polity. This change is presumably done by Collins.

[29] The 1689 Confession follows the Savoy Platform of Polity in this bold portion.

[30] The 1689 Confession adds this from a latter portion of the Savoy Platform of Polity in this same section. This change appears to be from Collins,

[31] This where the 1689 Confession took: “through the ministry of his word, by his Spirit” from (see footnote 17).

[32] The 1689 Confession adds ‘the’ in lieu of ‘this’ to the Savoy Platform of Polity. The source is presumably Collins.

[33] Samuel Waldron, 1689 Baptist Confession of Faith: A Modern Exposition (Evangelical Press, Darlington, England), pg. 318.

[34] The 1689 Confession uses up to this point (in section 6) the Savoy Platform of Polity. As well at the location of footnote 20 in section 6 1689 Confession omits the following from the Savoy Platform: “who being further known to each other by their confession of the Faith wrought in them by the power of God, declared by themselves or otherwise manifested.” The remaining portion from section 6 follows the Savoy Platform.  The WCF is not used at all in this section.

[35] The 1689 Confession adds ‘to’ in lieu of ‘unto’ in the Savoy Platform.

[36] Other than footnote 20, the 1689 Confession follows the Savoy Platform word for word in this entire section.

[37] Samuel Waldron, 1689 Baptist Confession of Faith: A Modern Exposition (Evangelical Press, Darlington, England), pg. 320.

[38] Ibid, pg. 320.

[39] The 1689 uses ‘completely organized’ in lieu of ‘completed’ from the Savoy Platform. It omits a substantial portion from the Savoy Platform as follows: “The Lord Christ having given to his called ones (united according to his appointment in Church-order) Liberty and Power to choose Persons fitted by the power of the Holy Ghost for that purpose, to be over them, and to minister to them in the Lord.”

[40] The 1689 Confession uses ‘Bishop or’ in lieu of ‘Pastors, Teachers’.

[41] Samuel Waldron, 1689 Baptist Confession of Faith: A Modern Exposition (Evangelical Press, Darlington, England), pg. 321.

[42] Ibid, pg. 321.

[43] The 1689 Confession uses ‘Spirit’ in lieu of ‘Ghost’ for the Savoy Platform.

[44] The 1689 Confession uses ‘Bishop or’ in lieu of ‘Pastor, Teacher’.

[45] Samuel Waldron, 1689 Baptist Confession of Faith: A Modern Exposition (Evangelical Press, Darlington, England), pg. 323.

[46] The 1689 Confession uses ‘bishop’ in lieu of ‘Pastor’ in the Savoy Platform.

[47] The 1689 Confession uses ‘Spirit’ in lieu of ‘Ghost’ in the Savoy Platform.

[48] The 1689 Confession uses ‘all that are’ in lieu of ‘none are to be’ in the Savoy Platform.

[49] The 1689 Confession uses ‘are also under the’ in lieu of ‘the Churches, who do not submit themselves to the Rule of Christ in the censures…’ in the Savoy Platform.

[50] Samuel Waldron, 1689 Baptist Confession of Faith: A Modern Exposition (Evangelical Press, Darlington, England), pg. 328. Waldron goes on from here to discuss the Scriptural basis for such a radical statement on pages 328-329.  I quote some of that below this quote.

[51] Ibid, pg 238-329.

[52] The 1689 Confession uses ‘each church’ in lieu of ‘all Churches’ in the Savoy Platform.

[53] The 1689 Confession uses ‘proceedings’ in lieu of ‘proceeding’ in the Savoy Platform.

[54] Samuel Waldron, 1689 Baptist Confession of Faith: A Modern Exposition (Evangelical Press, Darlington, England), pg. 330.

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