devotional

03MAY
2015

LBCF 1689 Reflections (part 27).

 

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. 

 

NEXT-

 

CHAPTER 2
Paragraph 2: “…to him is due from angels and men, whatsoever worship, service, or obedience, as creatures they owe unto the Creator, and whatever he is further pleased to require of them.”

 

Perhaps my greatest sin in life was that I made God too human. When God first opened my eyes to his salvation I was in my tiny apartment living room in Tampa, FL. On the cassette tape I had in the preacher was expounding on and around Isaiah 40:15-17 which says: 

 

Surely the nations are like a drop in a bucket;
they are regarded as dust on the scales;
he weighs the islands as though they were fine dust.
Lebanon is not sufficient for altar fires,
nor its animals enough for burnt offerings.
Before him all the nations are as nothing;
they are regarded by him as worthless
and less than nothing.

 

     God taught me something here. I had trifled with him and I knew it through this verse. It was this thought from Isaiah that took my repentance by the hand and escorted me to the cross in that tense yet reservedly joyful first prayer. I had made a god that I was “pals” with. That’s just what I was taught. Jesus died for me. God wanted the best for me. God wanted me to be….me, me, me. You may have heard the expression “man-centered religion” before. Well, that was me. Having no real theological basis for much with God from my childhood, much of my time during my first years as a disciple, like so many of us, was spent un-learning a lot of things that I’d picked up along the way. Perhaps you were on the other side of the ditch. Perhaps you were taught that God was far off. That he is aloof, unconcerned, solely wrathful, and maybe too cold or distant. Such ideas do also paint an un-biblical picture of God. I was on the warm n’ fuzzy side of things, and I’m sure that this is the predominant posture for many from my culture and generation. We don’t see God from the perspective of “creature” very well. Consequently, statements like this here in the confession, while I don’t think many would outright deny it, are foreign to us. Isaiah, under inspiration, is the one who said God weighs nations and counts them as worthless. Our presentation of God today says God would have died for just one of us. If you hear that enough, what does that do to the conscience of the unrepentant? It hardens them into taking advantage of grace and regarding it as something cheap. We have a real difficulty therefore in reconciling a God who dies for sinners yet is so high up that whole nations are counted as nothing. We can reconcile the two by reminding ourselves of our proper place, and of God’s immense sovereignty.

     The fact that God is high and lifted up is something we must teach our kids. The idea of God as a Creator who can require of people “whatever he is pleased” to is important so that our kids don’t take the gospel or God himself for granted as so many do today. We want kids to fear the Lord as a Father who is to be revered and worshipped. He is a dad to those who love him and this is humbling, but he’s not just a dad…he’s God. Statements like this one in the confession can help frame a sound mentality to kids when taught to them in love. Our present theological culture makes the cross too much of a given. Our current problem is that we’re raising (and have been raised) as generations of spoiled kids who are tired of being kissed on the cheek too much by God. When the blood of Jesus Christ is thrown out before the feet of sinners as if Jesus is begging for their acceptance, while the intention may not meet the facts, it skews the minds of listeners into a position of dominance and self-sufficiency before God that is not at all demonstrated in Jesus’ own teaching or that of his Apostles. We are the criminals. He does NOT need our acceptance. We need his. Sound teaching, in love, always maintains this proper balance. 

     God is over everything created. Angels, men, everything. Paul Washer once asked a very powerful question. He asked: “What being is more like God? The highest seraphim at the throne of God who worships daily in his presence, or the 10 legged toilet bug underneath your toilet bowl’s rim?” He answered emphatically: “Neither! Neither is anything like God!” God is not like what he created. He is the Creator. He is eternal. He’s always been. I’ve been here less than 40 years. What about you?

     Please remember that obedience to God is not an option. He requires it. If one is not obedient to him it’s sin. A man may choose not to obey God, but it’s not a choice without dire consequence. He demands obedience. The call of the gospel is at its foundation a command to repent. “…he commands all people everywhere to repent. For he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed,” Acts 17:30b-31a. Remember dear reader: “This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil,” John 3:19. It is in rejecting Christ that the death sentence is sealed over the heads of men. 

     Why is this so hard for us today? Why do so many of us feel that if we teach our kids things like this that they’ll somehow not see God as loving and kind? There are surely a lot of answers for this. I would like to venture my answer to the question with a proposition. The proposition is this: If your kids saw the cross it’d freak them out. It’d freak us all out. God’s greatest display of care. His greatest act of mercy. His most defined definition of love was an event that would mar us for life if we beheld it with our own eyes. We may vomit by the gory site of Jesus on the tree. If we were there on Calvary’s hill that day it’d give us nightmares. Perhaps in this we can see that God is not to be presented in his love like you would present a grandpa. God is not just a “really old man upstairs.” He loves like no one else. He calls us to remember the cross. For our kids to see his commands to believe different than suggestions, as elevated, sovereign, judicious and fair orders this is not ultimately dangerous; it’s necessary. Let’s teach our kids that God “requires” obedience of us. It’s only by the Holy Spirit that they’ll ever truly desire this anyway. 

     Let’s tell them and show them what life is like under the marvelous, gracious, loving hand of God who can require of all of his creation whatever he pleases.

 

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