devotional

18JAN
2022

LBCF 1689 Reflections. Part 220

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 6b: “…and do willingly consent to walk together, according to the appointment of Christ; giving up themselves to the Lord, and one to another, by the will of God, in professed subjection to the ordinances of the Gospel.”

 

Regarding this statement, my first thought is to adapt Paul’s statement in Philippians 3:12 regarding the perfection of faith itself to it: “Not that I have already grasped it all or have already become perfect, but I press on if I may also take hold…” I am no perfect church member. I want to be, but I know I’m not. I could encourage my elders better. I could invite people more. I could pray with more people there. I could sing louder (though the people in front of me likely wouldn’t enjoy it). I could be a better example to the younger folks. I could contribute more of my time. I could give more money. I could do so many things better, but I can say that I know that I’m called to this. We’re again new to the city we’re in and thus to the church we’re in. I hope all such works increase in the near future after our membership process is complete. I want more and more church life in my life.

My church has its member’s covenant printed on the back part of every one of its pamphlets. It’s a great weekly reminder of what we commit to who attend the church. It talks about a great many things that embody living out the Faith together.

For a great example of how important all this is to God, I invite you to head over to Ephesians sometime. Even if you don’t study the entire book, see quickly how it’s divided up. In its chapters it strategically splits in its inspired intent. Chapters one through three lay down the doctrinal foundations for what’s then detailed for us to live out in chapters four through six in life. God wants believers to live out their faith together and writes through Paul to teach us what that looks like. This model of doctrine and exhortation isn’t solely in Ephesians, of course, but it’s there in all its clear and balanced glory.

Churches can collectively administer the ordinances of the Faith rightly only together. There are many things given in the New Covenant about how we’re to conduct ourselves when we’re together. It doesn’t always look the same everywhere you go, but there are some hard and fast rules for proper churching. The Lord’s table was instituted in a group, for example. Baptism, another group event, is something we also do collectively. We’re supposed to watch each other do these things to encourage one another to live these things out. Singing, praying, confessing, etc. These are collective or corporate works given to believers wherever they’re assembled to share whether we’re in a church of twenty or a church of two thousand. The church about these things is the church about its people and its Savior.

We are “subject” to the Faith if we’re taught well. God makes no islands of men. God is our teacher, 1 John 2:27, but he uses many instruments in the church (Ephesians 4:11-13) in his discipling. This is how Jesus ministers in and by his church. The church is the truth at work. Reader, we are either members of Jesus’ body or we’re dead meat. This means we’re members of a local church body or we’re almost surely dead meat. God gives church structure to its people to flourish us. 2 Corinthians 1:24.

I hope you’re in a place that stirs you up in Christ. A place that roots and exhorts you and your family. I promise you, if you’re in that place, your leaders pray for you, and will commit to these things in your life as you commit to them. Ultimately, all of our submissions to each other is about our submission to Christ himself! That’s what these statements in the confession want to relay to us.

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