devotional

16MAY
2018

LBCF 1689 Reflections. Part 114

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 4: “God did from all eternity decree to justify all the elect, and Christ did in the fullness of time die for their sins, and rise again for their justification; nevertheless, they are not justified personally, until the Holy Spirit doth in time due actually apply Christ unto them.”

Salvation is only possibly properly understood as the work of the triune God. The Father electing, the Son Redeeming, the Spirit illuminating.

There’s an implicit question presented and answered here. It’s a reasonable one, but one that can quickly become unreasonable, often reaching into areas that can quickly become more foreboding than illuminating. The question goes something like this: “If I’ve been elected unto eternal life from before there was life on earth, then was I ever *not* actually saved?” The answer is “yes”. Election is always God’s business. He knows who his elect are. We don’t. What we do know for sure is that everyone (other than Jesus) born of Adam has to be saved from the sin they inherited from Adam. Scripture, written almost exclusively to the elect, abounds with phrases like, “And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, in which you once walked according to the course of this world…God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus” Ephesians 2:1-2a and 4-6. Or 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 where Paul affirms believers as those once previously most certainly not to inherit the kingdom of God, now being secure in Christ. Paul says here that God saved them. “Such were some of you” in vs. 11. Past tense. “Were”. Jesus says in John 5:24, “he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life.” From death to life. There was a change. Anyone who’s had this change was elected to it before the foundation of the world. All these passages detail our change from darkness to light. At some point, we must be born again. With almost no exception, this necessitates a first full natural birth. Even John the Witness had to be born again…even though God did it before he left Elizabeth’s womb.

We are not regenerated (born again) until a point in time God directs. It happens in real time at some point. We don’t always know when it happens. Some of us remember a day when God made us alive with Christ, but many don’t. All who believe will see the fruit of it, but it was first given to us perhaps at a time in our development that we couldn’t cognitively even process that God had done it. In every case, I’m convinced it must precede faith. Some always remember believing in Jesus. I trust I remember the day I was converted. I can’t give you the date, but I know the sermon I was listening to on that cassette tape alone in my Tampa living room in my tiny apartment when God did it.

Salvation is planned by the triune God. The Son submits to the Father to accomplish it. The Spirit reveals Jesus in the hearts of his people on any given day.

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