devotional

16FEB
2020

LBCF 1689 Reflections. Part 176

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 20. “Of the Gospel, and the Extent of the Grace Thereof.” Paragraph 2a: “This promise of Christ, and salvation by him, is revealed only by the Word of God…”

 

I’ve divided this paragraph up for a reason. The first half deals with what’s often called, “special revelation.” Beautiful term! The second half deals with what’s often called, “general revelation.” We’ll deal with the first part this week. Both parts are vitally important for us to understand. This first part of the paragraph is so very important for Christians to understand as a confessional body of people united in or by the truth. Truth unites Christians. Propositional truths both unite and divide people as God wishes if we’re well-trained and humble stewards of them. Truth is how we can know that the Spirit unites us. Satan unites people a lot too after all, you know, but it’s not a true unity worth having. We call the Bible “inspired.” Anyone today who doesn’t is either a) ignorant, b) confused, or possibly c) a devil. We get the idea of “inspiration” from places like 2 Timothy 3:15 where we read, “All Scripture is inspired by God…” The word “inspired” or “θεόπνευστος” (transliterated: “theopneustos;” pronounced: “thay-ah-nu-stoss”) here identifies a protected category of unique and/or holy writings. Today, when one considers it well, we know that Paul’s words here reflect all of what we now call the Bible. Even throughout the history of the church where some have strayed hither and thither by adding to or subtracting from the 66 books of the Bible for roughly 2,000 years, most inside the major groups deviating still call their collections “inspired” in this unique way. Meaning at least that they are foundational or sacrosanct.

 

These 66 books are God’s list of writings. They are God’s books. If one adds to them, we must ask “why?” If one subtracts from them, we must ask “why” and in both cases consider well what’s being denied or added. Inspiration is in the truth laid down and preserved and it is not “easy” to miss. The Bible, now in its 66 books, are that “special revelation” we as a Christian church have been identified by since the close of the first century when you’d find us holding perhaps only parts of it, one book here, five books there, yet filled with the same Holy Spirit sent to us bearing witness to Jesus’ Resurrection and love toward us in the Cross. As time went on in God’s plan, it’s to these 66 books alone that we now rightly ascribe the title “inspired.” Just as the 39 books of the Old Covenant are inspired, so are the 27 books of the New Covenant. They’re all special. And history, with all its advantageous chapters, shows us why. We see what happens when one deviates and we don’t want that. Without exception, the 66 books of the Bible were all quilled before the close of the first century AD. The 27 letters of the New Covenant are the only books we reliably date to that first century. All others (many others) came after. Ultimately, though it’s good for any believer to understand persons of influence, conciliar efforts, debates, manuscripts and textual variations, heresies, dates, etc., the Christian’s ultimate assurance of inspiration must go directly from God to the heart. All those other things then compliment the facts, they don’t “validate” them. The Bible is God’s canon, not man’s. If we have no theology of canonicity, we’re left only to what some careless and untrustworthy pagans want- sola ecclesia. That is sand. Thank God we have something better- his special revelation.

 

These writings are God’s “self-revelation.” They are God’s words preserved for us. Not in one language’s version, but throughout the whole world where they’re sent in all its languages and accurate versions. Ultimately, the Christian’s surety come from two major truths: 1) Matthew 24:35: “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away.” Mic drop. 2) John 10:27: “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.” Why do the sheep not hear Jesus in the Apocrypha? See points 1 & 2 above. I do not discount history under the reality of Jesus’ promised preservation of his words; I see the reality of the necessity of it through them.

 

God’s written word is how we know him personally. If left to the witnesses we’ll consider next week, we would all still be clueless as to the Cross and the Resurrection. Do you have a Bible? Read it. It’s worth your whole time to do so. It’s God’s “special revelation.” Unless God chose to reveal himself, because of sin, we could not know him. The good news is that God has revealed himself to the world. Look to Jesus. Look to the 66 books of the Bible.

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