devotional

25AUG
2018

LBCF 1689 Reflections. Part 120

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 13.1b: “the dominion of the whole body of sin is destroyed, and the several lusts thereof are more and more weakened and mortified, and they more and more quickened and strengthened in all saving graces, to the practice of all true holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord.”

 

The peace Jesus brings must cover all our sin for us to have peace with God. Period. SIN is a qualitative problem over all humanity. It’s not just that we’ve sinned “so many times;” it’s that we have sinned. SIN is something from which we must be delivered or removed. This is why election is everything and thus salvation is not of one’s works from start to finish. It’s by election. That we’re seated, baptized, raised, given life, given faith in the Son (Ephesians 1-2:10; Romans 6:3-4; 8:11; 2 Peter 1:3; Philippians 1:29; 1 John 5:11). We are literally qualitatively different that we were before God did that (2 Corinthians 5:17) or we are not in Christ. For Paul to say things like, “Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death” there cannot be even the smallest sin unforgiven. Sin cast all of humanity into ruin. Genesis 3. One act of rebellion from our first parents ruined it all for all. How much more then, being now in that qualitative state of SIN and death from Adam, do our numerous transgressions (the quantity of the evidence against us) evidence that condition from which we must be delivered? So, if you have even one sin not entirely covered (yes, especially perhaps those you’ve not yet repented of) then how dare you assume you have peace with God? There is no purgatory. To hell with that blasphemy. No, you must have your sin pardoned. And it can be…through the Cross of Jesus. Through his righteousness being made your own. 2 Corinthians 5:18-21. This is the greatness of salvation today in Christ. It is a full pardon! It’s not that we’re sinless. God forbid anyone should deny themselves and the Gospel in that way. No, we’re not sinless, but we are already redeemed and strive toward the finish line awaiting with each lunge the fullness of our redemption. Titus 2:13. We are secure now therefore in Christ with the word “now” being the blessed word. “Now”. It cannot even be that only my sins of yesterday are covered, but not my sins of today or tomorrow. No, “the dominion of the whole body of sin is destroyed…” Jurisdictionally, my sin debt has been written off through the death of the old Joseph who owed it to the creditor. This is wonderful. The new me doesn’t carry that debt. Not eternally. Temporally maybe, but not eternally. I have already passed judgment and am alive, John 5:19-24. We have peace with God in Christ! Romans 5:1-2. Rest, peace, sabbath, pardon, mercy, grace. This is what Abraham found by the way, we just know more about it now than he did then. Romans 4. If I am qualitatively different. If I am pardoned by virtue of the Cross and by Jesus’ mediation (Hebrews 7:25) then I should walk differently. I should talk differently. I should honor that great calling. Romans 6:1-4. You’ll see sin, but I’m in no way marked by the practice of it. You’ll see sin, but God had that covered from before Adam.

 

“…and the several lusts thereof…” Our tastes change if we’re born of the Spirit. Like a pig who once loved only slop, yet now, by virtue of a changed heart actually dislikes the taste of slop and desires Chicken Pad Thai (perhaps the greatest food on earth) we have a different taste for sin. We don’t like sin’s taste if we’re in Jesus. Perhaps not overnight with all lusts, but there’s change still. We start (with God being so very patient) to actually desire better things. This is why homosexuals stop being homosexuals, fornicators stop being fornicators, why thieves stop stealing, rapists stop raping, and murderers stop murdering. This is also why we never vote Democrat. (Kidding. Sort of). Sorry, had to.

 

“…and the several lusts thereof are more and more weakened and mortified, and they more and more quickened and strengthened in all saving graces, to the practice of all true holiness…” Christianity is a direction toward the end game of conformity to what God wants in us. Romans 12:1-2. Romans 8:29a says, “Those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son…” That’s the end game. You should write “end game” in your Bible right next to this verse. That conformity to Jesus, which as far as we’re told culminates in what we call “glorification,” becomes the defining characteristic in us who today love God. It’s what he “foreknew” us for. This is not just for pastors or missionaries, but for lawyers, soldiers, auto mechanics, presidents, teachers, governors and heavy equipment operators as well. God has love and grace for all in every such area, 1 Timothy 2:1-4. If anyone is truly “looking unto Jesus as the author and finisher of their faith” (Hebrews 12:2) then they’ll be joyously about this conformity undertaking.

The use of the word “practice” should find more place with Christians today. Our practice should define us. I think of the tennis player, an actual contender, practicing for Wimbledon. A boxer for a title fight. Of a football team practicing for the super bowl. Go Browns! The bowler practicing for the… well, whatever it is bowlers have. The Christian life therefore does not just become marked by what a person does on any given day, but instead by what practices have marked their lives toward what Scripture says should be their goal from the day they say they first believed! If God’s heaven is your goal, then you should be marked by the practices God says are required of you to get you there. Jesus says, “Strive to enter through the narrow door; for many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able” in Luke 13:24. It’s not just “how I responded to a sin on Monday”, but about something much bigger. It’s about what it can be shown to be is the practice(s) I undertake toward a specific endgame in my life. In the past decade. In the past year. In the past century. In the past week. If heaven is my endgame, shouldn’t I be practicing for it? Most Christians today aren’t. How do I know? Because they look like tennis players claiming that Wimbledon’s their goal, but haven’t handled a racket on a court in five years. This is precisely what John means in that tricky text where God says, “No one who is born of God practices sin, because His seed abides in him; and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.” 1 John 3:9. The Christian is “practicing” for something. He’s seen God by faith and so the striving is not blind. He’s in a race and he’s competing according to the rules, 1 Corinthians 9:24. He’s doing the things that make him ready. A runner is sleeping, stretching, eating right, training, breathing, reducing weight, reducing resistance, purchasing the right gear, pushing himself. He’s not idle. He’s focused on a prize. He’ll discipline himself to get it. He’ll sacrifice. He’ll use any lawful means to assist him in his goal. What is the Christian’s goal? Christ likeness. The Christian is reading, praying, fasting, fellowshipping, sharing his faith, singing, crying, killing his sin, bringing his thoughts subject to God, seeking guidance, etc. If your life doesn’t mark that as a practice, then heaven’s not your goal. If you don’t find a passion in you for it then faith is not in you. Repent. This is why I must condemn entirely the blasphemous idea of what’s called “Non-Lordship salvation”. This is not salvation. For more on that see Dr. John MacArthur’s masterful book, “The Gospel According to Jesus”.

 

“…without which no man shall see the Lord.” “Pursue peace with all men, and the sanctification without which no one will see the Lord.” Hebrews 12:14. I feel I needn’t say more here.

 

God bless!

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