devotional

16SEP
2017

LBCF 1689 Reflections. Part 100

Reflections on the Baptist Confession of Faith of 1689. 23 Aug 14 began a perhaps unbroken, orderly, and personal journey through my favorite written confession of faith. This will be my personal reflections on this beloved written codification of the Christian Faith which is according to a Baptist flavor.

 

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Section 9, paragraph 3: “Man, by his fall into a state of sin, hath wholly lost all ability of will to any spiritual good accompanying salvation; so as a natural man, being altogether averse from that good, and dead in sin, is not able by his own strength to convert himself, or to prepare himself thereunto.”

 

The unified testimony of Scripture is a long line of disobedience. Scripture shows empirically that mankind is dead in SIN. We have proven it. I currently live in Europe. Just consider the wars of the middle of the twentieth century alone! Romans 3:9-18 is anthropologically clear over the whole of the human race. With a litany of Old Covenant passages evidencing his point, Paul indicts the whole of the human race (Jews and Gentiles) with the following review:

 

What then? Are we better than they? Not at all; for we have already charged that both Jews and Greeks are all under sin; 10 as it is written,

“There is none righteous, not even one;
11 There is none who understands,
There is none who seeks for God;
12 All have turned aside, together they have become useless;
There is none who does good,
There is not even one.”
13 “Their throat is an open grave,
With their tongues they keep deceiving,”
“The poison of asps is under their lips”;
14 “Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness”;
15 “Their feet are swift to shed blood,
16 Destruction and misery are in their paths,
17 And the path of peace they have not known.”
18 “There is no fear of God before their eyes.”

 

Mankind cannot recognize the good. Mankind cannot love it. We need grace. We are literally un-willing to believe from our first birth. We must be born again.

 

What the writers of this confession hereby affirm in the confession is the truths we see in Romans 3. There is something systemically, fundamentally and wholly wrong with all of mankind. It is at our root. This is how the problem of the Fall becomes clear. This problem cannot be one of environment. It’s found in all environments. It cannot be found in merely our decisions. No one makes the right ones. It cannot be a result of opportunities. No one has ever of themselves obeyed even when given them. No, we need a merciful God who understands us. We must be the problem. The problem is us. A church curmudgeon once said, “Somebody should do something about everybody.” Well. Jesus has. Jesus, through the new birth, has made the difference with many men.

 

Behind all the worthy debate on how exactly the free-will of man operates, there remains the truths reflected here that force me to a right division of the Bible on the subject that the synergistic view of salvation is simply impossible. Romans 3 is just too clear. Even if man’s will was entirely free today, it would only choose hell. A good expression of this was seen in the movie What Dreams May Come starring the late Robin Williams. Mr. Williams has since committed suicide. Spoiler alert: In the movie, the man dies and embarks on a mission from his own “heaven” to save his suicided wife who’s in “her own hell.” In the movie, when Williams’ character dies he goes to heaven and God is not there. When his “guardian angel” (played by Cuba Gooding, jr.) is asked by Williams: “Where is God?” his response, while gazing into even higher heavens was, “Somewhere up there. Wondering why we can’t hear him. Ya think?” Even in our conceptions of heaven today, God isn’t there. Williams went to heaven and was reunited with his wife and kids, but never with God. That’s how wicked we are. We want even heaven. But not God! We imagine heaven as godless.

 

The gospel changes us. It changes our wills to something motivated supernaturally. Our wills are actually freed by Jesus. We no longer have to sin every time. We are inclined unto righteousness by the work of the Holy Spirit within us, and pleasing God becomes beautiful. We are given eyes to see what’s good, and hearts to love and obey it. The gospel is the answer to the universal problem. Our wills are not the answer. They cannot help. Only God can help. God willing, he will.

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