devotional

11JUL
2022

LBCF 1689 Reflections. Part 233

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 27. Of the Communion of Saints. Paragraph 2: “Saints by profession are bound to maintain an holy fellowship and communion in the worship of God, and in performing such other spiritual services as tend to their mutual edification; as also in relieving each other in outward things according to their several abilities, and necessities; which communion, according to the rule of the gospel, though especially to be exercised by them, in the relation wherein they stand, whether in families, or churches, yet, as God offereth opportunity, is to be extended to all the household of faith, even all those who in every place call upon the name of the Lord Jesus; nevertheless their communion one with another as saints, doth not take away or infringe the title or propriety which each man hath in his goods and possessions.”

When I read this, I confess I have a hard time understanding it outside my own current cultural context. Especially going back any significant period of time. I mean, why would a church in 17th century England need to be reminded of such things? I mean, wasn’t everyone just sitting around doing nothing in life and being bored? The answer is no, no they weren’t. Christians today are busy, sure, but people were always busy, always prone to neglect each other, always prone to wander. Career today (which often has no relation to the people or our places of worship) alone keeps us busy, sports for kids, hobbies, marriage, etc. We’re busy people. But even in the 1st century, Jesus taught the parable of the invited guests too busy to care. In Matthew 22:1-10 we see the invite gone out, but how in verse five “They paid no attention and went their separate ways, one to his own farm, another to his business.” They did also other inexcusable sins. While people in former generations may not have had as much to do, they could be just as equally busy. The church always reminds us of our call to rest as sheep beside the still waters. As chicks indeed under the wing. As stones fit together in strong and fixed lines. To turn off our cell phones and be his new creation.

Here, the authors are working confessionally to build community. In this it’s not enough to only define the deeper theology. To foster the church as a group of God’s people living out their lives with Christ-centered intent we need both theology and the Monday afternoon outline sometimes. For the first forty years of the Old Covenant community, and also into Cana, the saints dwelt around the Ark of the Covenant in the camp. Tribes camped on all four sides. This was a visual reminder of God in their midst. Their lives were centered on the tabernacle and the acceptable worship of Yahweh. This later moved to the temple in Jerusalem. Today, the Christian church has no such single place to worship, but worships God, “…neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem…[but]…in spirit and truth.” John 4:21b, 23b across the earth. God is as much with his people today than ever before. Our lives are to be centered on the worship of God. This centers us on a church. We are all pilgrims, ransomed, passing through, headed to a new land where our enemies are also slain or to be slain, and our high places left smoldering. In our conquest under the Joshua who actually gave us the rest we now work in, we war the smaller fights after the skirmish is already complete. Hebrews 4:8-11. We do this together in every way possible.

The church. The day to day lives of the people gathering to give thanks, to pray, to learn, to sing, to cry, to suffer, to bear witness in their generation, is the place where all the things in the confession here are to be most plainly seen. We share in the spiritual, we share in our natural needs when we have them as well. We share in the successes of our family, and we share in the failures. Part of the reason I want to exit the military next year after over twenty-four years of service is to spend the rest of my life proving this reality in the context of a local church!

What we have is our own. What we share from it is our blessing to others. The church has its theology, it also has its door mats and its curtains. There is the foundation and there are the tapestries. The holy divine and the wholly human. We seek to serve one another in every area of life if we’re centered on the triune God in the camp. Go to church. Be diligent. Get to know your pastors. Get to know your fellow pilgrims. This confession shows the practical nature of our lives as a group centered on Christ as we spend our short days upon the earth.

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