devotional

24SEP
2018

LBCF 1689 Reflections. Part 123

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 14.1a: “The grace of faith, whereby the elect are enabled to believe to the saving of their souls, is the work of the Spirit of Christ in their hearts, and is ordinarily wrought by the ministry of the Word…”

 

The “grace of faith.” There is something so necessary in calling it that, friends. This is heart work! Faith is a gift of grace. The Christian doctrine of grace alone is a bedrock. We miss it, and perhaps do so entirely, if we see it as a gift that’s inoperative unless we open it. The gift of faith is life in Christ itself, Romans 2:29; 6:4; 6:17; Ephesians 2:4-7, etc. It is itself the very first breath we breath in revived life. God gives it and it is grace, Romans 11:6. God’s elect are, “enabled to believe” in Jesus by it. Acts 5:31; 11:18; 2 Timothy 2:25. It is by virtue of the gift of faith that we move from being unable to please God to pleasing God by faith, John 3:3; 3:7-8; Romans 8:7-8; Hebrews 11:6, etc. This is the freeing of the fallen will by the new birth. It is the Son setting us free from spiritual death to walk in and after newness of life, John 8:36. It happens only in those who believe; and only those who believe can be said to have received it.

It is through the Gospel message preached to us that he normally does so. There are many ways God communicates to people in life alongside the on-going works of the church and the ministry of the word, but it’s all still ultimately through the Gospel that’s been proclaimed throughout the ages that saves those it was intended to save. If you can remove the nefarious connotations here, the Gospel’s impartation of life is like the Soldiers inside the Trojan Horse. It enters our fallen hearts inside the message. God’s good news comes in with it. It’s surely better to liken it to the life within the seed, but my point is that the life the Gospel gives is embedded into the message proclaimed. Into the articulated truth. That same message does not grant life to every hearer, but every hearer in whom there is life received it by the message heard and believed. This is the “ministry of the word.” In includes every aspect of the church’s ministry, but in its evangelistic component it is the life God gives in the spreading of the message of the Cross. The only reason anyone is saved in the 21st century is because men and women obeyed the command to spread God’s word throughout the first twenty.

Romans 10:14 reads, “How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher?” No one gets saved without prayer and evangelism. It has always been a proclaimed message. The normal mode of the church is this preaching and salvation. “For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not come to know God, God was well-pleased through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe,” 1 Corinthians 1:21. God could have done it any way he wanted to. He chose verbal proclamation. He will perfectly save his elect. He will not miss one because he is not willing that his elect should perish, 2 Peter 3:9.

There is no higher honor I can think of than having participated with God in the salvation of others. Have you done so? I hope so for your joy. Have you buried the talents given to you? Have you been a part of the ministry of the word? If you’re in a good church. If you support it with your time, your gifts, your money and just your participation then you’re at least some part of the “ministry of the word” in a certain place.

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