devotional

29MAR
2015

LBCF 1689 Reflections (part 23).

 

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 2: “God, having all life, glory, goodness, blessedness, in and of himself, is alone in and unto himself all-sufficient, not standing in need of any creature which he hath made, nor deriving any glory from them, but only manifesting his own glory in, by, unto, and upon them…”

 

Statements like this affect me in every part of my life. When I consider the kinds of things in this section it makes me want to be a better dad, soldier, friend, husband, and everything else. I personally don’t need the five steps to the ten reasons for x, y, z- all I need is to consider God and his amazingness. God is God. For him to reveal himself to us is actually the kindest, most blessed thing he could do for us. It is alone what could make us happy. Seeing God in his word changes everything. It is by reading the Bible and having the Holy Spirit apply his word in our hearts that we come to understand or “see” him in our lives. The single best place in Scripture that I can think of that outlines the complete awesomeness and self-sufficiency of God is found in Isaiah 40:21-26. These verses changed everything for me many years ago!

“God is the only being in existence whose reason for existence is in himself.” – Ravi Zacharias.

     The universe and everything in it is wholly dependent on God. Creation is forever under its Creator, Acts 17:28. If you trace back the oak tree you’ll find the first one that God made. Before it there would be no oak trees. If you trace back the whale you’ll find the first one that God made. Before it there would be no whales. If you trace back mankind you’ll find the first one that God made. Before it there would be no men. God alone is not like this. There are no generations of him to trace back. He’s just always been. Always. There is nothing before him and nothing after him. He is the alpha and the omega, Revelation 1:8. He needs nothing we could name. He doesn’t need us.

     Being that he is triune there is communication between the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. The three can speak to one another. There is love and fellowship in the trinity. We see this in Jesus’ earthly ministry as God speaks to him from heaven several times, and we learn of this relationship as Jesus speaks of the communion he had with the Father in his preexistence often. God doesn’t “need” mankind to be able talk to someone or to love. His desires to show his love, wrath or mercy did not “necessitate” the creation of the earth, but were instead out of the overflow of his free desires to do so.

     I had a young man ask me the other day, “Why’d God make anything?” My short answer began with, “Well, the short answer is that he did it for his own glory.” As I answered this young man outside our church I realized that this isn’t only a short answer to his question, but it’s the long one too. The world was made for the glory of God. There’s no better answer to his question. Heaven, hell, earth and everything else will magnify God as he intends. God is out for his own glory in this thing we call life.

     These LBCF writers knew of the self-sustaining, self-satisfied, self-existent God of the Bible. They do well to remind us here using these words. John Piper helped me understand the all-sufficiency of God probably more than any other preacher. He did this in several books, audio messages, and videos. One of the more impactful teachings from Piper I remember was where he took the time to quote CS Lewis. In a sermon about the glory of God Piper quotes Lewis in his Reflections on the Psalms. Check this out:

Lewis was a pagan till his late-20s and he hated God's vanity. He said that every time he read the words in the Psalms, "Praise the Lord, Praise the Lord"–and he knew Christian doctrine, that the Psalms were inspired–he knew that is was really God saying, "Praise me, Praise me" and it sounded like an old woman seeking compliments. That's a quote from Reflections on the Psalms. And then suddenly God came into C.S. Lewis' life. And this is what he wrote:

     The most obvious fact about praise, whether of God or anything, strangely escaped me. I thought of it in terms of compliment, approval, giving of honor. I had never noticed that all enjoyment spontaneously overflows in praise, unless sometimes we bring shyness in to check it. The world rings with praise: lovers praising their mistresses, readers their favorite poets, walkers praising the countryside, players praising their favorite games, praise of weather, wines, dishes, actors, horses, colleges, countries, historical personages, children, flowers, mountains, rare stamps, rare beetles, even sometimes politicians and scholars. My whole more general difficulty with the praise of God depended on my absurdly denying to us, as regards the supremely valuable, what we delight to do–even what we cannot help doing–with regard to everything else we value.

     And then here comes the key sentences:

     I think we delight to praise what we enjoy because the joy is not complete until it is expressed. It is not out of compliment that lovers keep on telling one another how beautiful they are. The delight is incomplete until it is expressed.

     Now, that was a key for me that unlocked something with regard to how God can be loving and self-exalting in all that he does. (This full article from Piper).

     When I first heard this I knew exactly what Lewis was talking about. It hit me like a ton of bricks. God, “getting us to praise him” by him revealing himself to us through his word is for our good. It is for our best good! It expresses what can be most excellent about us! This to me was a key that unlocked so many other wonderful truths about the cross of Jesus Christ and why God made the world. God’s complete self-sufficiency is wonderful to meditate on. It changes us.

     I have fallen in love with statements like this in the LBCF! God is awesome. The privilege of marveling at his awesomeness is something I do not want to forget. Jeremiah 9:23-24.

 

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