LBCF 1689 Reflections. Part 158

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.


Chapter 18. “Of the Assurance of Grace and Salvation.” Paragraph 2b: “…and also upon the inward evidence of those graces of the Spirit unto which promises are made, and on the testimony of the Spirit of adoption, witnessing with our spirits that we are the children of God; and, as a fruit thereof, keeping the heart both humble and holy.”

How do we know we’re led by the Spirit of God? In my opinion any “Christianity” that doesn’t instill confidence in future grace in an adherent evidences itself satanic. The authors of Scripture, while they had a special role, did not have a special salvation. Paul was no more justified than Zaccheus. We, by the same truths, should be able to make their same confessions, by the same Spirit, as other saints of the same Faith, in submission to them and to our mutual God. While there are indeed several good areas of measure for us to know if we’re in the Faith (2 Corinthians 13:5) I suggest a two-fold test: 1) an accurate perception of and growing love for God by God’s words the Bible, and 2) an inward war against sin. The first can be seen by anyone who knows you. The second is principally between God and a man. God wants both. My hatred for sin is a sign to me that I’m becoming more like my God. The God of the Bible who in his holiness hates sin perfectly. I know that if I have wisdom that, “The fear of the Lord is to hate evil; Pride and arrogance and the evil way and the perverted mouth, I [should] hate.” Proverbs 8:13.

Do I love learning more about God by reading his books? Do I truly love to hate my sin? These inward evidences grant me confidence before God and then man in every area of my life. It’s because I kneel before God that I can stand before man. This assurance comes to me by testing and by both failing and passing them. It comes by bearing good fruit in season in life. Those who’ve tasted of it for multiple seasons know full well what harvest times look or feel like. They also know the winters, and by the winters, even more the summers. Psalm 1:1-3.

So, what does it mean to be led by the Spirit? What is this leading that leads to God’s witness in our hearts that we’re his? Every preacher prays to see his people know and evidence this leading! It’ll show up in Bible study. Jesus said, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst…” Hungry men will be seen devouring. It’ll show up with a husband or wife’s testimony. It’ll show up in a hundred ways. What is this, “Spirit of adoption” they’re on about here? We could look to Galatians 4:6 and exegete it there, but in the flow of what the confession’s writers seemed to be thinking here, I think a look to Romans 8 is closer to the target. I say this also because they cite from Romans 8 in the few verses listed, and not from Galatians 4. Also recall that in the previous section they were talking about Jesus’ blood and the Gospel directly. Here’s I think a massive part of the answer then: “For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.” Romans 8:14. But what does that mean? You have to look at the previous two verses to see: “So then, brethren, we are under obligation, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh— for if you are living according to the flesh, you must die; but if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live.” Romans 8:12-13. So, being led by the Holy Spirit means, “Into warfare against your sin.” The leading of vs. 14 is the fight in vv. 12-13. This war shows you’re alive in the Spirit. Cf. Romans 7. Is that you? Especially when no one’s around? Then rejoice!!! If not, repent!!! Everyone dies, but those who live according to the flesh die otherwise than those who live this life in the Spirit. Has this battle wearied you at times to cry, “Abba, Father” in your life? Vs. 15? If so, you know why you came to Jesus. Vs. 17 assures us that, “…if indeed we suffer with Him…” we can assure our hearts before him. This fight is the witness. This is the testimony of the Spirit of adoption they’re writing about here.

This process called sanctification, which is common to all believers, keeps the heart holy, fruit-laden and humble. Jesus said, “Blessed are the poor in spirit…” Matthew 5:3. Those of us who are, yet who’ve been made rich by the Holy Spirit who himself showed to us our poverty, are loved and comforted as his own children in this seemingly relentless fight. Oh, how sweet is the Sabbath rest of Christ! And the full hope of it still to come! We know that the war’s already won. It is our fight against our sin, our “Deeds of the flesh” that shows us the leading of God in Romans 8.

God doesn’t demand perfection in this life from us. He does, however, give a perfect leaning to his children. Christ is our perfection. Hebrews 10:14; 1 Corinthians 1:30; Ephesians 2:14; Colossians 1:20, etc. Our trusting in him stamps our passports with “repentance” for our coming trip to heaven. Jesus approved our citizenship while we were still far off, and paid for our airfare on the Cross. His righteousness makes us perfect before the eternal throne. If it didn’t, we’d have no Gospel at all.

Knowing there’s already victory guaranteed makes this fight fightable! It is the embattled soldier under an “Abba, Father” that is assured the win. So, wipe your tears, man, don’t you see the flag already waving atop yonder hill?! The hill’s been taken by a commander in chief with more stars on his epaulets than in the milky way. It is the sure sign of victory more sure than the dead death at his feet. Our enemies are on the retreat. They’ve been disarmed. He’ll round them up. Christ has already become the first fruits of your victory. Onward!

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