devotional

07AUG
2019

LBCF 1689 Reflections. Part 155

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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Chapter 18. “Of the Assurance of Grace and Salvation.” Paragraph 1: “Although temporary believers, and other unregenerate men, may vainly deceive themselves with false hopes and carnal presumptions of being in the favour of God and state of salvation, which hope of theirs shall perish…”

Oh, the backslider! None of us can live long in Christ without the painful experience of someone we know who says they love God and yet turns away from the Faith. And I mean just completely tosses in the towel in the fight. Might be in round two. Might be round eleven, but they just called it quits. Scripture has much to say to such men and women, and it may very well become, like only an old friend’s warning can, that those tailored warnings in Scripture of turning or falling away from grace that God later uses to awaken them from death…for the first time. I’ve had a married nearly forty year serving pastor get found out about sex with a married music leader, former youth pastors go homosexual, scores of fellow laymen fall into various other sexual immoralities without any repentance, a former Sunday school teacher turn adamant Buddhist, or others cross the Tiber to Catholicism. I’ve seen all this and far more in my time in the Faith. Most times it’s a subtle withdrawal. You suddenly don’t see them in church. Then they stop coming to Bible study. Then they’re gone. On a few occasions it’s drastic, but it’s always sad to see. What happened there? Can a believer actually stop believing?

Speaking of antichrists, John writes, “They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us; but they went out that they might be made manifest, that none of them were of us.” 1 John 2:19. He then goes on to say, “But you [his assumed readers who like him actually know Jesus] have an anointing from the Holy One, and you know all things.” Only false converts fall away. True converts never will. If you’ve been to Chicago, you wouldn’t rightly be able to deny that you’d been there. If Christ has saved you, you couldn’t rightly deny it either. It’s just that simple. The confession here is clear that false assurances belong to false converts.

While I’m firmly convinced we should only examine ourselves and others based on a current status in obedience, and never on what they would say they once did or once believed, there is at the same time that only sure test of enduring faithfulness over time which shows our love for God as genuine. “…he who endures to the end will be saved.” Matthew 10:22. That’s through it all. Jesus taught us that among the church would always be the true and the false believer, and that we’ll not always be able to tell them apart. Jesus said, “Let both grow together until the harvest” in Matthew 13:30 (see 24-30 for context) for many reasons. It’s someone’s joyous repentance and sometimes violent-toward-sin attitude through which God establishes them. It’s their growth in the wisdom of Christ through which God establishes them. If they’re married, it’s their love for their lawful (opposite sex monogamous) spouse through which God establishes them. It’s their young children’s profession through which God establishes them. It’s their status among outsiders, etc. that qualifies them and becomes the long sought after means through which their heavenly Father shows them the lap on which they’ve sat since day one. True converts know this.

Even in these things, we’re not God, and men and women who appear to, “Pass all the tests” work their way past the safeguards until their sin finds them out. Then we wonder. Read John’s words again in 1 John 2:19: “…if they had been of us, they would have continued with us…” It’s simple. No Christian ever became an antichrist. Never once has it happened. It just can’t. No James every became a Judas. I’ve spoken to far too many false converts to believe otherwise.

Jesus talked about false conversions in Mark 4. They happen. But Romans 10:11 stands true: “For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.” Have you believed? Then like John n’ me, you know no sin on earth is more alluring than Jesus. You’ve sold it all and bought the pearl. Cf. Matthew 13:45-46. Like John n’ me, you know and love that your eternal life is so fixed in Christ that like a slave you bow your head in repentance for sin to your master who bought you. Like John n’ me, you know that unless Jesus knew you better than you do that he never could have forgiven you without his eyes on all you’d ever do…and that this endears you to him in that way in which you’d never run after sin again. Like ole John n’ me, you have a faithful Savior who you know bought you and that, “…you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.” Colossians 3:3. You know that Peter spoke up for you too when he said: “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.” John 6:68. You can’t go. You’re not perfect. Like John n’ me, you too sin and need to confess it daily. But you also know you’re not at all the same anymore. You’re not ignorant of Satan anymore. Like John n’ me, you know that your presumptions on eternal life aren’t based on anything other than the fact that your regenerate heart has caught glimpses of your blessed and merciful Jesus that demand the truth be heard in you, as you’ve seen him carry the heaviest end of your cross. You’ve grown up in him to love him far too much as he’s proven himself to you to ever long disrespect so great a salvation.

Repentance is your friend. It’s not the friend of the false convert. They’ve had a falling out. He’s your friend for life.

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