devotional

28JUL
2019

LBCF 1689 Reflections. Part 154

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.” Paragraph 3: “And though they may, through the temptation of Satan and of the world, the prevalency of corruption remaining in them, and the neglect of means of their preservation, fall into grievous sins, and for a time continue therein, whereby they incur God’s displeasure and grieve his Holy Spirit, come to have their graces and comforts impaired, have their hearts hardened, and their consciences wounded, hurt and scandalize others, and bring temporal judgments upon themselves, yet shall they renew their repentance and be preserved through faith in Christ Jesus to the end.”

 

If we did not believe in a God who “keeps us saved” we cannot consistently speak of a “God who saves” at all. It’s asinine to try to affirm that God saves, “By grace alone” and then at the same time slander salvation with probation by saying that we can forfeit it. What a total shame such an idea is! I hate it. There is no Gospel without a preserving Gospel unless being a saint means never sinning again. I can respect that some of us see a right need to never induce comfort in our people by presenting anything that will make them lazy toward sin, but a true foreman knows that his people need rest to be alert on the line. It’s not just instruction or warning, but childlike trust and truth that makes for safety in Christ. We must help them to see the rest in Jesus if his warnings are to do their job in them.

 

Unless your Gospel covers the eternal price of all sins past, sins present and sins future, it’s deficient. Please follow me: “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And He said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the great and foremost commandment.” Matthew 22:36-40. Due to the impairment of our natures by sin, even when we are 100% new creatures in Christ having only the remnant of our old self (Romans 7) we cannot ever hope to truly obey this commandment perfectly. God is always worth more than what we can offer in this life. I’m certain that post our “glorification,” that is, when sin is no more inside or even around us, that this will be our daily bread, but not in this life. Not yet. Not ever, and not for even one Sunday. But it is coming. When we see him face to face, we’ll have been made ready to with our new glorified eyes. And so, if we cannot obey the spirit of the very greatest of all the commandments, what fool imagines that his salvation can be lost in any other form of sin?

 

God does not save, at any point, based on our performance. Reward is different; salvation is no more to one than another. Until you get that, you don’t really yet get Christ’s perfect salvation. So, for the saved, this paragraph of the confession comes. Fight on! Hebrews 12:4-10 speaks *to God’s believers on their way to glory* about the scourging of God, “in [their] striving against sin.” God disciplines us in our war against sin (vs. 4). This shows we’re in an entirely different group than the non-sons dead still in sin. God disciplines his own. That’s what this section is on about. Part of that discipline is exactly what this paragraph of this confession writes about. Believers, “…come to have their graces and comforts impaired, have their hearts hardened, and their consciences wounded…” etc. And this is more than enough for the tender regenerate heart that truly seeks to love God and others well. These are “temporal” not “eternal” consequences. No, “Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” Romans 8:1. If quoting such a verse makes your practices of sin “more comfortable” for you you’re heading to hell. If such a verse lifts your head above water in an eternally (perhaps even inarticulatable) certain hope of future grace, then perhaps you’re beginning to rest in this Sabbath indeed. Do you treasure the true Jesus more than every penny on this planet? If so, then he’s given you his Spirit. Rejoice. Repent. Rearm.

 

No, we do not “lose” salvation. What a joke of a puny temporal “gospel” you have if you say we can. Of course, it’s certain that even our in-dwelling sins would be enough to expel us by the hour if such was possible. Flaming swords would bar all even once in the gardens of grace if God held us up again at that judgment. What a pathetic self-savior/co-savior that makes men if they must hold firmly to God’s wiggly open hand! If you could lose your salvation, you certainly would have already, you wretched fool. So, stop looking to yourself. Look up to heaven from whence your salvation comes. Don’t listen to any man who threatens you with a forfeiting Savior, no matter how sincere he sounds, or how big his polyester hat is. No, when God saves it’s for keeps, and he knew the end from before the beginning he made of you. Have you not read?: “For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; 30 and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified.” Romans 8:29-30. And the fruit of that certainty in you is your warfare against what he died to save you from. “What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase? May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it?” Romans 6:1-2. God scourges his kids only. Only those he receives. Take the scourging. It’s so that you would be holy, not broken. He will not lose you.

 

Don’t neglect your means of grace, Christian. Read and study that Bible. Go to church weekly. Fellowship. Watch what you let into your eyes and ears. Pray. Fast. Love. Evangelize. Turn from sin daily. Make no peace with it in any form at all. Get angry at your sin. This is your joy! You care to. This isn’t misery. This is the victory only the scarred Soldier knows, and one far greater than all beyond this life. If it’s misery to you to fight, then you’ve got the wrong motives or the wrong motivation. Let me invite you to the true motive through his Cross. Repent. Come and welcome to Jesus Christ! God does not keep anyone but in and by an active faith. It is our believing that is our keeping. The keeping is not an end in itself. The fact that when I sin again what beckons me to the Lord is the Lord is a wonderful conviction. True Christians will not toss in the towel. “No one, after putting his hand to the plow and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.” Luke 9:62. Those who look back are made into piles of salt without flavor.

 

To those in this fight, who by seasons are bearing its fruit, let the joy of the Lord be your strength. He is your strength. Boast in him. Know that the waters outside this ark cannot touch you because you were merely called into it. You didn’t build it. The God of all did. Trust in him. You will not fail because he cannot fail. This is blessed news.

 

For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.” Philippians 1:6. I am confident in this too.

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