devotional

03FEB
2019

LBCF 1689 Reflections. Part 136

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 16, “Of Good Works.” 16.2a: “These good works, done in obedience to God’s commandments, are the fruits and evidences of a true and lively faith; and by them believers manifest their thankfulness, strengthen their assurance, edify their brethren, adorn the profession of the gospel, stop the mouths of the adversaries, and glorify God…”

 

Whoever you are, may God bless you as you read this.

The writers spoke of believers doing the works outlined generally in Scripture for them to do in the previous section. Here, they speak of the sure fruit of it.

Works give “evidences of a true and lively faith.” I like that phrase, a “lively faith.” That’s what it should be. Dead faith ain’t faith. Here again, as always, we’re exhorted to recall the Pacificesque difference between grace and works. Works evidence grace, but they don’t merit it. We cannot say it enough, or in enough ways. So what that Catholicism teaches that works ultimately merit grace? Aren’t we saying the same thing when we speak of works as a necessity evidencing faith? No. Whenever you imagine so, just remember Paul’s treatment to the Galatians on what it means to imagine being able to be “perfected by the flesh” Galatians 3:3, etc.

I want to “manifest my thankfulness.” What could better manifest my appreciation for being delivered from the bondage of sexual sin than running from that sin in my life after claiming I’ve been delivered from the bondage of it? How else could I show that I appreciate being delivered from sin than not going after it? Than by pursuing the teachings of the one who saved me for the good of those around me and for myself? My pursuit shows I’ve been pursued by God and saved.

We should want assurance. We should long to rest in salvation. I cannot overstate it that sanctification is 100% supernatural. It isn’t psychological or emotional. We are 100% dependent upon the Spirit of God to move us in the right direction. But I also dare not forget that there are means God’s given us in Scripture that, if we obey them, and only if we obey them, do we get the fruit. We who are in covenant with him by his invitation repeatedly go to him for the free seed to sow in our lives, and if we’re soil fit for its growth, he gives the increase as we sow it. It’s in this that we can and should look for many harvests during many seasons. If we don’t obey the words given to us, we won’t get the benefits. Nearly all of his means work like this. Not obeying them sufficiently may even eventually show that we’re not in fact at all motivated by the Spirit to profess Jesus, but that we’re motivated by something else. It is a dead and useless faith that does not bring obedience.

What I do for the Lord, how I live and speak, does indeed “adorn the profession of the gospel.” One writer once said, “I reckon him a Christian indeed who is neither ashamed of the Gospel, nor a shame to it.” Amen. This is the shining of our lights. Matthew 5:16. And again I remind the two people who’ll read this, including myself, that we’re not left to ourselves to figure out what works the Lord will have us do. We’re given them. As we do them, outlier works may arise that we were unable to see coming, but they’ll come as we’re, and only as we’re, doing what’s already clearly been prescribed.

Soli Deo Gloria. To the glory of God alone. This is the pursuit of the truth of the Cross. At the very core of every false religion, or in the perversion of the only true one, lies man’s resistance due to sin to both say and do of this glorious truth wholeheartedly.

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