devotional

03FEB
2018

LBCF 1689 Reflections. Part 108

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 11, paragraph 1a: “Those whom God effectually calleth, he also freely justifieth, not by infusing righteousness into them…”

This section expressly and purposefully denies what Catholicism erroneously taught and still teaches today in only greater levels of error than when these words were first penned in 1689. If you had to boil down all of the Protestant Reformation to just one word, that word should be “imputation”. They’ll get to that here soon. I have to truncate the confession here for several reasons tonight, not the least of which being that while I’m writing this I’m in a tent out in the middle of the frozen and muddy German wildernessin a multi-national wargame. I digress. “Infusion” is the false belief that men are called by works to mix their own righteousness with Jesus’ in order to atone for their sin. “Imputation” is a term that summarizes the apostolic message of the Cross—that Jesus’ righteousness, in its full perfection, is credited to God’s elect by faith and faith alone. That faith is not just a mere offer of grace, but the gift of eternal life in Christ itself. This is no small point of theological shibboleth. The message of the Cross is that we need a perfect righteousness. The message of the Cross is that a perfect righteousness has been made available for those who will receive it alone as grace.

We’ve spoken of effectual calling before. This is when God makes the invitation of the Gospel a life-giving/heart changing message. Effectual call is distinguished from what scholars call an “outward call”. An outward calling is only made effectual by God. Men cannot ever make the outward call an effectual one. Even sinners cannot make an outward call effectual by their own strength. God alone can make effectual callings…and does so most often through the outward calls of the preacher.

“He also freely justifieth…” Justification is subsequent to regeneration. This is such a crucial and often omitted point that we fail to make. It has to be subsequent. Justification is always done with our willing faith. Again, it is subsequent to regeneration. Justification is also the free work of God alone, but I view it as something done like a two sides on a coin kind of a thing. There is never justification without our repentance and faith. Repentance and faith is never done before our regeneration. Regeneration is never in cooperation with one’s repentance and faith. Regeneration leads to repentance and faith which (inevitably always) leads to justification. There is a logical necessity in the order here. We must confess with our mouths and believe in our hearts to be saved. That is sure. Understanding the relationship between regeneration and justification alongside where my repentance and faith fits in, in my study, can only be reconciled with the sinful condition of my heart from birth in the Reformed way. Only there. This confession outlines it perfectly. I hope it’s a help to you as well. God bless. If you’re not in a frozen muddy wilderness too right now, thank God for that!

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