devotional

20OCT
2017

LBCF 1689 Reflections. Part 101

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 4: “When God converts a sinner, and translates him into the state of grace, he freeth him from his natural bondage under sin, and by his grace alone enables him freely to will and to do that which is spiritually good; yet so as that by reason of his remaining corruptions, he doth not perfectly, nor only will, that which is good, but doth also will that which is evil.”

It is so easy sometimes to forget that salvation is the work of God. It’s easy because it’s not always how we experience it. Sometimes we think God responded to us with salvation. By design, God calls men to act. No solid preacher can deny the depths of Scripture in the many ways God holds dead men accountable for their failures to rightly choose faith and life. We act according to our desires. In this way, all men are free. We act. When we do, we can sometimes tell that it was God behind our desires at more times than others. Sometimes salvation can actually look like a quid pro quo. As if we ask and so God does it. But no, it’s God who converts. It’s God who conveys us from darkness to light. He gets all the credit. No solid preacher can deny that man is dead in sin and that by nature he cannot believe on his own. It is “grace alone” that remains consistent in Reformed Theology. It’s when we were dead in trespasses and sins that God made us alive in Christ Ephesians 2 says. God makes dead men live.

This next part is important. It is by grace we are enabled “freely to will and to do that which is spiritually good”. We do the repentance. We do the believing. We do these good spiritual things. God doesn’t do them for us. We do. We always do. But it is God who gave us the willing heart that made us able to do any of it. It is by the gift of the new birth (being given a new heart like the tin man) that we’re freed (or fixed) to obey the command both willingly and joyously. It’s when his commandments are “not burdensome” that John says it proves us in the Faith, 1 John 5:3. It is God who gave us faith. This is what it means to have faith as a “gift”.

What remains in us after God saves is the sin still in our members. The confession does well here to remind men of what Paul writes of in Romans 7. The on-going struggles with sin’s presence and temptation. Its jurisdiction has been removed, but we’re still surrounded and tempted by it. The old man is dead. Crucified. Gone. The new man is growing and being molded into what he sees in and from Jesus throughout the Bible. As we see God unfolded for us on the pages of Scripture, we’re changed into what we see by the Spirit of God himself. We are not perfect in the new man, but we are perfectly accepted in Christ on the day God saves us.

 

 

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