devotional

07JUL
2019

LBCF 1689 Reflections. Part 153

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. These are my personal reflections on this beloved historic Particular Baptist confession of the Christian Faith.

 

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Section 17, “Of the Perseverance of the Saints.” 17.2f: “…and the nature of the covenant of grace; from all which ariseth also the certainty and infallibility thereof…”

 

Saints persevere. Part of them doing so is in the knowledge of how.

 

The idea of a “Covenant of Grace” (CoG) is a term developed in the Faith, mainly in the Reformed tradition (though certainly also conceptually elsewhere) designed to embrace what the New Covenant (NC) teaches regarding the mechanics of how we today can actually hope in Christ. It also teaches the underlying mechanics of the way of salvation for all of mankind since the Fall of Adam. 2 Corinthians 5:19-21. Essentially, what it boils down to in the NC is understanding that the conditions for man’s acceptance with God were entirely met by Christ. 1 Corinthians 1:30. Entirely met then within the godhead himself. Ephesians 2:5; Colossians 2:13. Jesus is our grace. 1 John 5:11. Today, we can say that if we have Jesus, then we have our full acceptance with God. John 3:36. He is our life. Colossians 3:4; John 14:19. Thus, we can consistently say, “Sola Gratia” or that it is by grace alone that we’re saved from sin and judgment. Ephesians 2:8-9; Titus 3:5-7. The CoG is opposed to the “Covenant of Works” which many title as what Adam and Eve had with God prior to the Fall. (See section 6.1 of this confession of faith, or beginning in part 68 of this devotional series back in 2016). They broke that covenant in which their own obedience (or works) kept them in grace, they fell into sin, and we in them. Romans 5:12. Since then, throughout redemption history, God has been revealing that it was always his intent to forgive people their SIN by an unmerited mercy. So, no matter when anyone lived, nothing they “did” saved them. If they were saved from their sins at any time, it was because God saved them. That’s grace, and that grace was codified in a few ways via the covenants God made with several men. Thus, our obedience now is not the actual condition for our acceptance with God; Jesus’ itself actually is. Our obedience shows the nature of Jesus’ at work in our hearts, but our foundation is the righteousness of Christ, not our own righteousness…since we have none.

 

The CoG was promised to Abraham and fully realized or “consummated” in Jesus through the Cross. Galatians 3-4, etc. Between these two major epochs, the times of Moses, David and all the others, were all added bulbs on the strand to fully illuminate the world in Jesus’ life and teachings, death, Resurrection and Ascension. Christians today now live in the fullest expression humanity will ever know of the CoG. Amazing grace! Christians today live in a covenant of grace. Persevering grace. Its very nature produces worship in us when we taste it.

 

This is how we can know we’ll persevere if God has raised us up with Christ. Because we have such a living hope in Christ, it is the very nature of our covenant with God that ushers us into humble confidence before the throne. No one is ever good enough. No one in this life is sinless, and so, if our Gospel does not or cannot yet justify us fully, then even the Apostles could never speak with boldness on the grace they received in Jesus. But it does fully pardon. Romans 5:1-2. We know that nothing less than a perfect righteousness ever could hence we teach that “Christ alone” can save. When we understand that Christ has merited our full adoption, and that there’s nothing lacking in it, then and only then can we rest in the actual Sabbath of his Cross. Hebrews 4:3. Luther spoke of being simultaneously justified and yet sinners in his famous formulation, “Simul Justus et Peccator.” Amen. Those not trusting in the Cross might call this a legal fiction, but for those of us being saved it is both the power and wisdom of God.

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