LBCF 1689 Reflections. Part 188

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 22. Of Religious Worship and the Sabbath Day. Paragraph 1b: “But the acceptable way of worshipping the true God, is instituted by himself, and so limited by his own revealed will, that he may not be worshipped according to the imagination and devices of men, nor the suggestions of Satan, under any visible representations, or any other way not prescribed in the Holy Scriptures.”


This section is about acceptable worship, dear readers. Worship is about both what we do collectively as Christians when we gather, and what we each do in private as well. As Jesus said, Christians worship God, “…in spirit and truth.” John 4:23. We need to consider both and continuously test all our established traditions and practices by the Scriptures. Cf. John 17:17. Our knowledge of the triune God is directed by the truth, and the truth is in the end the Bible’s sixty-six books alone if we’re wise today. Spirit and truth. May God grant us both in our churches. It’s not about “a way” to worship God in most things. It’s not about a lockstep unity in everything we do. Our manner of worship may look very different across the planet or street and still be one-hundred percent true and pleasing to God. What God gives us in Scripture is about an “acceptable way” to worship. The processes may be ours, but the outline is God’s. God’s one church lives today among many diverse peoples. We Gentiles in the NC are not a homogenous group. We very different peoples have a unity that’s much more than just the color of our clothes or intonation when we sing.

When we talk of “special revelation” we mean that which cannot be known in any other way than God revealing it to someone. It is therefore “supernatural” revelation. You simply cannot learn such things by natural revelation alone (see previous entry). Since Adam and Eve were rejected from the garden, men and women have heard from God as God says in Hebrews 1:1 “…in many portions and in many ways.”

Cain and Abel had an awareness revealed to them of what was and was not acceptable worship. Cf. Genesis 4:3-5. They were taught by God about what the offerings were to look like, and also how they were to be offered. Enoch (the one descended 7th from Adam) walked with God in an acceptable way. Cf. Genesis 5:24; Jude 14; Hebrews 11:5. Noah was told what to do by God and when, etc. By the time we get to Abraham and the informal covenant God made with him and his descendants, God begins to get far more specific. By the time we get to the formal covenant with Moses (the Old Covenant) we have a meticulous detailing, from God, about exactly what it meant to offer worship to God in that covenant. The details of the Ark and the tabernacle serve as an example of just how specific this was. This was all “special revelation.” God’s “revealed will” as they say here in the confession had to be made known. I can summarize the Old Covenant with Deuteronomy 5:1-2 that says, “Hear, O Israel, the statutes and the ordinances which I am speaking today in your hearing, that you may learn them and observe them carefully. The Lord our God made a covenant with us at Horeb.” Though we have strong perpetuity in the Law coming into the New Covenant (NC), in the NC in Christ God radically changed what he demands of his people for acceptable worship. We baptize both boys and girls upon a legitimate profession of faith, we don’t offer blood sacrifices, a special priesthood is gone, we don’t have a temple or annual convocations we’re required to attend, we don’t require male circumcision, etc., etc. Everything is of grace between God and his people still today, but God’s commandments on how we worship have changed between the two covenants. God changed what’s changed. I’ll illustrate this fact with Hebrews 8. We must approach through or by Christ or we dare not claim to approach God at all today!

We do not today worship God however we please. God will not accept just anything. We worship as prescribed by Christ. He told us what is acceptable. We also know what’s not acceptable. The Catholic Eucharist is unacceptable. The Islamic five pillars are unacceptable. Approaching a false Jesus (who’s not God) such as those of the Latter Day Saint, Christian Science, or Jehovah’s Witness cults is not acceptable worship. Hindu claims of karma are not acceptable guidelines from which to live one’s life and are of false gods, etc. Men must repent and trust in Christ’s finished sacrifice on the Cross, or God will not accept their worship. And the Jesus we call upon must be worshiped as God Almighty. A member of the Trinity. We will be rejected if we reject Jesus or his free and un-merited grace.

Protestantism (writ large) is acceptable worship. It’s in accordance with the truth. Those who worship and legitimately practice Sola Scriptura (Scripture alone) and Tota Scriptura (all of Scripture) end up with the same God and Gospel with various ultimately inconsequential differences. Without these biblical principles guiding our worship you end up with views like modern day Catholicism or Christian Science.

Satan has presented many Jesuses with many types of worship. But the gates of hell will never prevail.


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