devotional

13FEB
2015

LBCF 1689 Reflections (part 19).

 

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. This will be my personal reflections on this beloved written codification of the Christian faith according to a Baptist flavor.

 

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CHAPTER 2

Paragraph 1: “…most loving, gracious, merciful, long-suffering, abundant in goodness and truth…”

 

Such characteristics in the nature of God are essential to a proper understanding of who He is. It’s the inherent responsibility of church leaders in every culture as they find it necessary to articulate the faith to not only show the distinctives of their theology that might separate them from the falsities of their day, or articulately explain what they love, but also to continuously affirm those attributes of God that collectively reveal a proper picture of who He is. This is what they’re doing here. It’s important to note that each of these traits are to be attributed to every member of the Godhead. They’re to be attributed to the Father, the Son and to the Holy Spirit equally.

     One of Martin Luther’s impetuses for departing from the Roman church was his search for a loving and merciful God. These men, who were influenced greatly by Luther, wrote about that love and mercy in great detail. The essence of God’s communication of the gospel is in His lovingness. The gospel is proclaimed in a lot of ways in the Bible. One is certainly: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life,” John 3:16. Scripture affirms part of God’s nature as loving so powerfully that John says, “He who does not love does not know God, for God is love,” 1 John 4:8. We must know this about God, and be reminded of it often. He is “most loving.” These writers knew this well.

     That He is certainly most gracious and merciful are also parts of His nature seen in the passages cited just above. A main fault in our culture today is the underlying and often unspoken arrogance that assumes that God’s love obligates Him to save all men or else be cruel. His mercy is not an obligation due to us by virtue of Him being our Creator. He delights in showing mercy as it’s written: “He has mercy on whom He wills, and whom He wills He hardens,” Romans 9:18. His mercy is shown in His help of the completely helpless. We are absolutely powerless and dead in our sins. He has mercy on His elect because He is pleased to do so.

     God is long suffering. His patience isn’t just displayed in His bearing with Israel nationally, but in His patience with each one of us today as well. Any of us converted in later life can attest that God would have been vindicated for destroying us, and that every angel would’ve applauded Him for it in the end. We all were that hardened servant in Matthew 18:23-35 and yet He died to forgive us. In our lives He is calculating and long suffering. He knows who He will save, and He does it when He sees fit. Throughout our lives He shows His long suffering nature waiting for our conversion.

     God is rich in goodness. We human beings are now living in an abnormal state of existence. Our minds cannot fully comprehend heaven, but the goodness of it is something held out in hope to the faithful. Imagine the toils of this life and then at the end of it hell. The depression that comes upon me for people who refuse God’s grace is sometimes more than I can bear. It compels me to action. It compels me to witness, to write, to preach and to work to be the example of grace to others that I see in Jesus. He is so very good. To see Him is to love Him. I want people to see Him. He displayed His goodness on the cross in the most profound of ways. His goodness is seen in His love for what’s good and in His hatred for what’s evil. Moses, the greatest prophet in the Old Testament was shown a veiled part of God. “And the Lord passed before him and proclaimed, “The Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abounding in goodness and truth,” Exodus 34:6. David spoke about God's love toward him and said, “For You meet him with the blessings of goodness; You set a crown of pure gold upon his head,” Psalm 21:3. Cf. Psalm 23:6. It’s almost as if these confession writers are quoting the Psalms many times.

     Truth is an underestimated thing among the ungodly, but God is rich in it. To find truth is to find God and vice versa. Truth is wonderful. Some will vainly search for it their whole life in the wrong places with the wrong heart and never find it. The truth literally sets men free, John 8:32. It sets whole cultures free. Truth is a name we can give to Jesus, John 14:6. Truth is beautiful and it changes everything. Truth about us changes everything. Truth about God changes everything. Truth is the Bible and it changes everything, John 17:17.

     By emphasizing each of these facets about God it’s like painting a mosaic or piecing together a puzzle. Each piece has its place and the puzzle simply would not be whole if it was missing any one of the pieces. As we consider each attribute of God and His triune perfection regarding each and every one of them we find God by degree more and more alive in our hearts through the word. Let’s remember each of these attributes of God as we read His word. He is all these things and more. 

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