LBCF 1689 Reflections. Part 162

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 4a: “…True believers may have the assurance of their salvation divers ways shaken, diminished, and intermitted; as by negligence in preserving of it, by falling into some special sin which woundeth the conscience and grieveth the Spirit; by some sudden or vehement temptation, by God’s withdrawing the light of his countenance, and suffering even such as fear him to walk in darkness and to have no light…”


For a moment, dangerously, I’ll liken walking by faith to a blindfolded ninja being taught to navigate a gauntlet by his sound or touch. There is eternal purpose to God mingling our sadnesses and joy in this life post our redemption. How does he teach us to walk by faith? He could’ve mind-wiped us. He could’ve made us at least somewhat impeccable. He could’ve privately raptured us all upon conversion. But no, he chose otherwise. He chose to leave us in this world.

Every believer is taught by God that 1) they have a Savior who has saved them from their sin, and 2) that this doesn’t mean not sinning at all anymore. I hope every reader knows precisely by long experience what the confession’s writers here were on about. If not, I’ll try to make a few respectable points on it.

1. You will have to war with sin as a believer and you will suffer many losses. I believe it’s an evidence of inspiration that Paul doesn’t name a particular sin of his in Romans 7. It’s in this chapter that Paul says things like, “I find then the principle that evil is present in me…I see a different law in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind…Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death?” Vv. 21-24. I firmly believe that Paul is writing this passage with his current situation in mind. I know some of my brother disagree with me on this who say that Paul was writing of the condition of a man (or perhaps of himself) before his conversion, but I just find too much in the passage consistent with the war with sin that all Christians face to accept that. Our sins are not all the same. Paul doesn’t name a sin of his own here so that you wouldn’t dismiss yours as you read. You will war. It will be hard. Expect it. Expect it and know that Jesus is there with you in it all. He is literally the scarred General.

2. This warfare will evidence your faith. God will not cast you off by it. He breaks you like a horse not a glass. Romans 8:12-17:

“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. For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him.”

If you know this suffering, may you be happy to hear that those who wrote this back in the 17th century knew of it too. They want you to rest in a perfect justification without presumption. You will suffer when you sin. Even at other times, suffering is a tool. Joy is too, but that’s easy. You’ll grieve God as a Christian, but he will not cast you out. “…He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.” Philippians 1:6.

3. This wearying warfare, if you’re learning, will wean you off any idea of your own abilities. It’ll make sense of Sabbath hope. It’s a way God teaches you to walk by faith. It will nail shut the coffin of self-sufficiency and there, at the Cross, you’ll find a strength when you need it that comes immediately from God.

“My soul, wait in silence for God only,
For my hope is from Him.
He only is my rock and my salvation,
My stronghold; I shall not be shaken.
On God my salvation and my glory rest;
The rock of my strength, my refuge is in God.
Trust in Him at all times, O people;
Pour out your heart before Him;
God is a refuge for us. Selah.Psalm 62:5-8.

Only the weak find strength anywhere else. The weak boast about the Titanics of sex, money and power. God will discipline those he has adopted. It will strengthen them. It hurts. It’s hard. It’s perplexing. But, throughout it all, it’s sanctifying.

4. Do you know why God’s chastening should bring you joy? I literally, of course, could not say it better than him:

“It is for discipline that you endure; God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom his father does not discipline? But if you are without discipline, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Furthermore, we had earthly fathers to discipline us, and we respected them; shall we not much rather be subject to the Father of spirits, and live? 10 For they disciplined us for a short time as seemed best to them, but He disciplines us for our good, so that we may share His holiness. 11 All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness.” Hebrews 12:7-11.


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