devotional

09SEP
2018

LBCF 1689 Reflections. Part 122

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 13.3: “In which war, although the remaining corruption for a time may much prevail, yet through the continual supply of strength from the sanctifying Spirit of Christ, the regenerate part doth overcome; and so the saints grow in grace, perfecting holiness in the fear of God, pressing after an heavenly life, in evangelical obedience to all the commands which Christ as Head and King, in His Word hath prescribed them.”

 

This “war” they talk of is that waged against sin in sanctification. See last entry. I just love the way they write this. I truly believe that such well-crafted statements are a way the Spirit bears witness with ours that we’re the children of God. Like the truths in a good song, or in the Psalter, extra-biblical creedal summary statements like this move us if we’re in Jesus. They’re not inspired, but they inspire. I am such a sinner, but I am so founded in the Christ who saves sinners just like me. This confession bears my heart out on the matter wonderfully. This is indeed my confession!

I have had such dark nights in my 16 years as a believer. And I know that’s not that long of a time compared to many others. Nights many years ago where the sin of pornography destroyed me. Nights where failures to be gracious towards others made me come close to feeling like Peter on the night he also betrayed his Lord. Yet there has been a repentance I literally could not deny in health abiding over it all. A forehead toward my upward calling in salvation like flint. Sparks have flown from my hard head and stiff back often over the years, but I’ve been bowed down by the sanctifying work of the Spirit. I wanted it. I want it still and am now in need of many things less from the disciplining hand of my Lord. May God continue to break from me my sin until I’m fully his.

It is by obedience we grow. Obedience. Actions. Works. Many great pillar texts about grace alone are followed by commands to do good works for a reason (Ephesians 2; Titus 3). This part of the confession takes me straight to John 15:1-11. Jesus teaches that both he and the Father, and we know by the ministrations of the Spirit, are at work in the lives of believers to “bear fruit.” (Vs. 8). I have done so by the triune God’s works. Jesus’ teaching here about pruning and caring for the vines regards our lives. Sin, like fruit may “spring up on the branch” but the Father prunes them off before they’re full grown. How? By his means. By what they call here “evangelical obediences-” prayer, fasting, repentance, fellowship, evangelism, caring for the poor, the ordinances, reading Scripture, marriage, ministry, accountability to spiritual (and perhaps even other lawful) authorities, etc. By reading a confession. It’s by these things that God does what none of them themselves could ever do. He brings forth fruit in our salvation as if they were soil, water and sunlight on the soul. “He” is the vinedresser. “Jesus” is the vine. No evangelical obedience themselves is either one. When sin pops up on the branches, and it will, he prunes it off. Oh, how he prunes! He is a wonderful husbandmen (the old word for vinedresser). I am perfecting holiness. It is by obedience. There’s an old hymn I just love that I’d like to leave you with. Its lyrics were written by John Henry Sammis. It is my song.

When we walk with the Lord
In the light of His Word,
What a glory He sheds on our way;
While we do His good will,
He abides with us still,
And with all who will trust and obey.

Refrain:
Trust and obey,
For there’s no other way
To be happy in Jesus,
But to trust and obey.

Not a shadow can rise,
Not a cloud in the skies,
But His smile quickly drives it away;
Not a doubt or a fear,
Not a sigh or a tear,
Can abide while we trust and obey.

Not a burden we bear,
Not a sorrow we share,
But our toil He doth richly repay;
Not a grief or a loss,
Not a frown or a cross,
But is blest if we trust and obey.

But we never can prove
The delights of His love,
Until all on the altar we lay;
For the favor He shows,
And the joy He bestows,
Are for them who will trust and obey.

Then in fellowship sweet
We will sit at His feet,
Or we’ll walk by His side in the way;
What He says we will do;
Where He sends, we will go,
Never fear, only trust and obey.

 

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