devotional

19APR
2020

LBCF 1689 Reflections. Part 183

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 21. “Of Christian Liberty and Liberty of Conscience.” Paragraph 1b: “…as also in their free access to God, and their yielding obedience unto Him, not out of slavish fear, but a child-like love and willing mind.”

It is the childlike, loving and willing mind that endures in Christ and proves God’s grace in us!

In 3 April’s devotional, I wrote about how there were I think two main parts to this paragraph worth highlighting separately. I pray you were blessed by the last one. This week, we look to the second. There is a (ultimately) blasphemous doctrine afoot and rampant today, friends. And I do profess that today I feel that genuine believers commit this blasphemy. For many, it’s quite unsettling at first to learn of its treachery because sadly they’ve even heard it in church. It’s been implied into a dozen Bible verses and so seems biblical despite its many contradictions. Like illicit sex it seems to empower, but its end is to steal and kill. It’s the idea that mankind is not born dead spiritually in sin. That we all from birth remain endowed with a freedom of will. This idea is not Protestant theology. This invention says (often without saying) that sin in our father Adam did not kill us all, but that it somehow, directly against what God’s word says in places like Genesis 2:17 and Ephesians 2:1, merely wounded us. Free will philosophy teaches directly that our flesh, our will, still profits us everything though Jesus said, “the flesh profits nothing.” John 6:63. This philosophy says that mankind is not so dead in sin that he’s profitless and useless as Romans 3:9-18 declares over the world. You’re not surely dead sounds a bit like Satan’s old, “You will not surely die” lie re-worded. It is the general doctrine of the world that man is basically good from birth, not fallen, not evil. Able to choose. We hear it all the time, don’t we? After all, if we’re anything but just wounded by SIN then how could God ever save anyone…since he needs our freedom to believe in order for us to save ourselves by the Faith he’s merely made available to all. We all “know” that God would never choose among us who he wants to save. Free will is ultimately blasphemous because it denies the effect of SIN. Most Christians today are basically Pelagian by this idea.

But reader, I believe that Jesus didn’t come just to make men “freer.” He came to make dead men live. We must be born again. The implications of this are massive. Most Christians today have a real problem with this doctrine, but if our “total depravity” cannot be proven in Scripture then I’m sure nothing else can be.

In that state of grace we call “regeneration” or being born again, we’re free to believe and to obey God. We were set free from disobedience unto obedience. Amen. Previously, while non-regenerate, we were only free to SIN. Believing in Jesus is actually a commandment from God: “This is His commandment, that we believe in the name of His Son Jesus Christ…” 1 John 3:23. Acts 17:30: “…God is now declaring to men that all people everywhere should repent.” Non-burdensome (1 John 5:3) obedience to God is a fruit of genuine discipleship and fellowship. Non-Christians can only fake such a thing. They do not obey God’s commandments and please him. They care nothing about doing so. Paul routinely speaks of non-Christians as “carnal” in his letters. He says in Romans 8:7 that, “…the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so.” That’s no copyist error. The non-Christian cannot in any manner pleasing to God obey God’s commandments. Cannot, will not, does not. That doesn’t mean they can’t not steal, or can’t not commit adultery. It means their hearts never do it in or by love with God. Such self-serving “obedience” will not profit them. The carnal mind “cannot” obey God’s commandments, Paul says. One of them is to repent. This is exactly why Jesus says, “…no one can come to Me unless it has been granted him from the Father” in John 6:65. Until we’re born again, we cannot submit, we cannot believe. That’s what sin does. The regenerate mind, the Christian mind, the saved mind, the adopted of God child’s heart, however, can and does. God’s children have been set free to actually freely obey God. Not to be saved, but because it pleases them to please God!

Because in faith they have access to God, they freely yield themselves fully and freely unto him. They’re set free from death to life in Christ. They are most willing to love and obey because God’s seed is in them. They’re set free from sin and death by grace, and set free to life and obedience by grace. The regenerate mind shows itself as willing to obey as the carnal mind finds itself willing to follow itself.

Only in Christ are the wills of men free!

“Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is the slave of sin. The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son does remain forever. So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed.” John 8:34-36. It is this freedom that the Christian life proves by every degree of sanctification.

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