devotional

02JUL
2020

LBCF 1689 Reflections. Part 190

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.

 

NEXT-

 

Chapter 22. Of Religious Worship and the Sabbath Day. Paragraph 2b: “…and since the fall, not without a mediator, nor in the mediation of any other but Christ alone.”

 

Some of us may wonder why they even thought to write about this because we don’t study history much. Remember that this confession was written in 1689. I enjoy its use of language in the strong young Reformation era biblical doctrines that advanced all of Christianity away from the roughly 450 years of devolution (not all, but a lot) in the medieval and scholastic periods. Dr. Nick Needham said well that the Reformation was, “The best elements of western medieval Christianity trying to correct the worst elements.” (2,000 Years of Christ’s Power. Volume 3. Pg. 12). The Reformation worked by doing this in far more ways than it failed to. The Reformation did not fail. When the Council of Trent in 1563 answered Jesus’ true church on justification, the truth showed its apostasy on the Cross by its sacramentalism. The Reformation worked. Then we Baptists came along and just took it past the five-yard line all the way into the end zone. But hey, it’s a team sport, right?! (Tongue in cheek). The Bible and its doctrines on mediation were not being “re-discovered” when this confession was written. The Bible was doing what it had always done in God’s church…just on a grander scale on a myriad of subjects with the advent of the printing press. Western Christianity had in many ways, by its gross biblical ignorance, produced a sea of mediators for Christians to allegedly approach. I’ve seen pages of lists of saints from Rome’s view for everything from a fear of water to approaching Jesus himself. We have to talk about Mary, Jesus’ mother in this talk or we’re likely planting our feet in mid-air. No Christian you meet will have a higher esteem for Mary than I do, but to pray to her would be to spit in Jesus’ eye! I know that she can’t hear anyone pray. I don’t talk about Mary much (because God doesn’t) but she was incredible. Here’s a short message about her from me if you’d like to hear it: http://biblecia.com/audio/the-virgin-mary-22-min/?hilite=%27virgin%27%2C%27mary%27.

Many false religions today have added layers of tradition that make them as guilty of subtraction against Christ as the Jewish leaders rebuked in Matthew 23 by Jesus were against the Law of Moses. And just because one claims to be “Protestant” they’re surely not immune to the same. The Pharisees had added traditions that actually subtracted God’s blessing. Traditions aren’t necessarily wrong, but they can be. Let us build well on the foundation! Rome adds huge lists of saints to mediate between God and man and even does its horrific masses with its “host” (means a sacrifice) even for the dead. Rome invokes dogmatic aberrations about some Mary figure they’ve created in pure biblical ignorance that makes her a vital intercessor. Satan teaches Mariolatry, not Christians. Of course, there is much confusion in Catholicism on the matter among its over 200 denominations, but such additions, when up-help, clearly show subtraction of God’s blessing. It leads some Catholics to say things like the following in speaking of their version of Mary:

She is like the merchant’s ship, she bringeth her bread from afar.” Mary is that blessed ship, which brought to us from heaven Jesus Christ, the living bread that came from heaven to give us life eternal, as he has said: “I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live forever.” Hence Richard of St. Laurence says, that all those will be lost in the sea of this world who are not received into this ship, that is, protected by Mary. He also adds, that whenever “we find ourselves in danger of destruction from the temptations or passions of the present life, we ought to flee to Mary, crying quickly, Oh Lady, help us; save us, if thou wouldst not see us lost. And let it be remarked here, in passing, that this writer does not hesitate to say to Mary: Save us, we perish “Salva nos, perhnus;” as the author mentioned several times in the previous section does, who denies that we can ask the Virgin to save us, because, as he says it belongs only to God to save us. But if a person condemned to death may ask some favorite of the king to save him by interceding for him with his prince, why cannot we implore the mother of God to save us by obtaining for us through her prayers the grace of eternal life? St. John of Damascus did not hesitate to say to the Virgin: Oh pure and immaculate queen, save me, deliver me from eternal damnation. St. Bonaventure called Mary the salvation of those invoking her. The Church allows us to invoke her: Health of the weak “Salus infirmorum;” and shall we hesitate to ask her to save us, when, according to a certain author, to no one is the door of salvation open except through her? And before him St. Germanus, speaking of Mary, said: No one can be saved except through thee. (Alphonsus Liguori. The Glories of Mary. https://www.ecatholic2000.com/liguori/glories19.shtml).

Now I know that most Catholics today would be quick after reading this to want to distinguish for us between Catholic people’s teachings and “official Catholic doctrine” (whatever that is) as it suites. Fair enough. Not everything some claimed Protestant says represents my theology even if they claim to be Biblicists. But three of the four later Marian dogmas (and likely the fifth to come) are more heretical than anything written here by Mr. Liguori. Mary worship is rampant in Rome today, and was a huge part of that 450 years of devolution before the Reformation era that I briefly spoke of here already. And I care little for their dulia word distinctions that all fail in practice in light of it.

If a doctor tells you that a pill will heal you and you take it and six others, it shows that you at least thought that the doctor was wrong. He said one pill. You said seven. When God says, Therefore He is able also to save forever those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them” in Hebrews 7:25 and you claim that Jesus’ intercession is somehow to be augmented, what you’re saying is that Jesus’ intercession is insufficient. If Jesus’ own living intercession was enough, and if you knew you had it, then to claim he’d ordain another pitiful level would be like saying my mom told me to eat dirt before meatloaf, the best meal she makes.

So, what’s the point? The point is that sufficient is a Christian’s mediation in Christ, the Godman. We are to approach no other in heaven since about 30 AD. Jesus is our perfect mediator. “For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus. 1 Timothy 2:5. And please note that adding mediators between you and Jesus is the same as adding mediators between Jesus and the Father. There is only one from the triune God to you, reader. And the good news of that is the New Testament! Cf. Hebrews 8:1-2. This doesn’t mean that you can’t have living people pray for you. It’s very clear in Scripture that we can pray and intercede for each other on our earthly journey. Amen. That’s not the necromancy of Rome and some claimed Mary apparitions, visions and prayer beads distro. Hence, to add mediations at any level is to imply imperfection in mediation. Word it however else you want, if you have access to your wife, a messenger between the two of you will not do, you want your wife.

The word “sufficient” is my favorite single word for what I think God’s intent was in giving his church his books in the Bible. In his written “holy” word since he first began to specify his rule outside Eden. The Bible is sufficient. All-sufficient today. There is simply no problem regarding God and man that we can’t solve exhaustively by its full counsel. Anyone skilled in it, with the anointing of God, knows this. History proves it. And I truly don’t think I’m overstating it. If men, even brothers, failed to obey the text and all of the text at Marburg, which they did, was the text not sufficient had they (the at best men) been up to it? When Paul wrote: “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work” in what we catalogue as 2 Timothy 3:16-17, we mean what I mean by “sufficiency.” I live to prove every other factor of Sola Scriptura that God’s word and Spirit implores, but sufficient is my favorite of the terms. With slight nuance, sufficiency means something like sufficient for any of God’s people at any time in history. After all, in the times of the Judges Gideon didn’t have Romans. Deuteronomy 13 shows a sufficiency for the Hebrews to unmistakably recognize heretics in Cana…even if it was their own kids. So obviously, what God had given them through Moses was sufficient to such ends. They could know all false gods and prophets, if they were truly circumcised in heart, by having Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus and Numbers repeated in Deuteronomy. And they didn’t nearly even all have individual print edition scrolls. If Solomon had listened to Deuteronomy 13 and 17:17 while almost surely doing Deuteronomy 17:18, perhaps what we saw in 1 Kings 11:4 and 9-11 wouldn’t have happened as it did. Solomon’s disobedience built by what he shouldn’t have forgotten. But God’s voice, in the elect, remains clear and his revelation sufficient.

Sufficient today, to me as a New Covenant member, is to a knowledge of the same certainty. When Jesus said, “A stranger they simply will not follow, but will flee from him, because they do not know the voice of strangers” in John 10:5 it must show a direct spiritual connection between Christ and a person that is able to warn against anyone or anything else pretending to the true Shepherd. This is only strengthened, as God designed, in his sufficient word. Today, we have 66 books in the Bible. With few exceptions, Christians have always known this as have the godly Jews who went before us in God. Wow can we know God! He’s chosen to reveal himself to us in his word.

We have immediate access to him. This is by Christ. We are in him when we are born again. What do we lack except perhaps more time to be taught by him by his word and by our lives under his lordship? God will put his people where he wants them for his own plans and purposes, but in him, wherever that is, we’re right where he wants us and we have all we need.

 

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