devotional

26DEC
2021

LBCF 1689 Reflections. Part 218

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 26. Of the Church. Paragraph 5: “In the execution of this power wherewith he is so intrusted, the Lord Jesus calleth out of the world unto himself, through the ministry of his word, by his Spirit, those that are given unto him by his Father, that they may walk before him in all the ways of obedience, which he prescribeth to them in his word. Those thus called, he commandeth to walk together in particular societies, or churches, for their mutual edification, and the due performance of that public worship, which he requireth of them in the world.”

This is all about the continual work of the church. Week in, week out, year in, year out. This ministry of the word (the full counsel of God) is what God intended throughout every day that he appointed for the church of Jesus Christ on every street you find us. I was a part of this two millennia’s old work this morning, this past Friday, the previous Sunday and Saturday, the Wednesday before that, etc. I’m a church member.

When Jesus told his crew “I will build My church” in Caesarea Philippi (Matthew 16:18) he was already about the job. Not a one of those men had any inkling of a papal see. As we saw in the last section, the papacy is not the profession of godly men. The promise from King Jesus stands, however, that he will build his people, his church, his body. He keeps his promises. The Apostles were chosen recipients of New Covenant (NC) truth. John 16:14-15. They were given the Holy Spirit in that NC way. They saw the Lord therefore all throughout the Old Covenant and came to know how the NC would envelope earth in Abraham’s spiritual seed, which is all of God’s elect. They took that truth into the world. Jesus’ Resurrection saves and sends. It’s truth—sound doctrine—that builds the church in love. In some of the instruction about the church in the NC, we see Paul say to Timothy: “The things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, entrust these to faithful people who will be able to teach others also.” 2 Timothy 2:2. This is Jesus building his church from the start. He does it in us. 1 Peter 2:5. It’s not in one foreign city with a worldly bachelor at its head, it’s in every single city where the Gospel takes root. It’s in every house church, every converted synagogue, every former whorehouse made holy unto the Lord. God calls his ministers whenever and wherever he pleases.

It is only men called to pastor in the church. Women may pastor over women and children, but it is a shameful insult to God’s order to put them in charge over the men. This isn’t a point here given in the paragraph, but it talks about calling and God gives his qualifications for church governance in the NC exclusively to men for very clear reasons.

“Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit. And there are varieties of ministries, and the same Lord. There are varieties of effects, but the same God who works all things in all persons. But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.” 1 Corinthians 12:4-7. Christians are all called to share in this. It’s because they’re saved from their sins that they ever can. We see this from the previous passage: “…no one can say, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ except by the Holy Spirit.” Having the Holy Spirit himself in the NC gifts you for service. It’s not just church leadership in its elders and teachers that’s in view in Corinthians there it’s every gift for the common good. There are so many gifts for so many members. All of us are direct disciples of the Lord’s first disciples in a study of their words as we live out our varying gifts by the same Spirit’s empowering.

The Apostle Paul, though gifted apostolically in ways that were clearly not to continue, modeled the pastorate for every generation. “Not that we domineer over your faith, but we are workers with you for your joy…” 2 Corinthians 1:24. Pray for your pastor/elders. They will answer to God, not just for their own lives, but for their pastoral work in your life as well. Hebrews 13:17. We empower their gifting in our love and submission. We serve Christ directly when we serve his church. It’s his work. Always has been. Always will be. Revelation begins with messages to seven churches. Nearly all of the NC’s letters directly center on churches. I hope you’re a joyous part of the work. The confession here tells us plainly why we should want to be. Ephesians 3:9-11 alone teaches us that the local church was God’s plan from the start “To enlighten all people as to what the plan of the mystery is which for ages has been hidden in God, who created all things; so that the multifaceted wisdom of God might now be made known through the church to the rulers and the authorities in the heavenly placesThis was in accordance with the eternal purpose which He carried out in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Jesus planned it. Jesus started it. Jesus will finish it.

This is the work of the church.

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