LBCF 1689 Reflections (part 32)



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. 





Paragraph 1: “God hath decreed in himself, from all eternity, by the most wise and holy counsel of his own will, freely and unchangeably, all things, whatsoever comes to pass…”


“Remember this, and be assured;
Recall it to mind, you transgressors.
“Remember the former things long past,
For I am God, and there is no other;
I am God, and there is no one like Me,
Declaring the end from the beginning,
And from ancient times things which have not been done,
Saying, ‘My purpose will be established,
And I will accomplish all My good pleasure.’” –Isaiah 46:8-10.


     The confession cites part of what’s above here as a supporting verse for its claims. How do you deal with the sovereignty of God in your theology? I don’t know all of the reasons that I’m so drawn to this subject, but I know that I am fascinated when I ponder the omniscience of God. Like a child dipping my toes in an ocean I return to the subject excitedly each time with a sense of awe and worship. Verses like the ones cited above show a remarkable aspect of God’s sovereignty that I feel demands articulation especially in the face of a fallen world. How can we claim a sovereign and loving God yet see such evil in the world? We need to give an answer. Some Manicheanistic fools are content to give Satan an equal footing on the stage of sovereignty, while others today invent a free will in man, but I must find my answers ultimately in God himself because he is sovereign. I may find part of the answer in man's will or in the devil, but it isn't there that I will find the ultimate answer. I must find my answer in God. What I’d like to point out from the verses above is that it’s not just some special access God has to a fixed knowledge of the future. It’s not that the universe is somehow fixed outside of God and that God merely has the prerogative to view its material like a coach with a game tape reel. It is “God’s purposes” that will be established the verse says. There’s purpose to be realized. It is God’s “good pleasure” that he is accomplishing. God is not therefore just seeing a fixed future; he is instead literally bringing it to pass. 

     When they write that “God hath decreed in himself” what he wills this means that he is not contingent upon anything outside of himself to bring his will to pass. God has decided what will be and consults no one, no thing, for counsel. “…from all eternity…” must be cited because we cannot ascertain from Scripture exactly when an eternal God decreed a thing. One preacher spoke of God not waiting a thousand or a million years before he made us, but that he waited forever. He’s eternal. That means there’s literally an eternity before mankind. Think on that. We read statements like, “from before the foundation of the world,” or “from everlasting to everlasting,” but such statements really only narrow it down to before the Creation that we’re now a part of. These statements mean before this universe, or before Adam. When can we fix a point in eternity? We can’t unless God tells us and he doesn’t. We don’t know when God decreed this world’s existence exactly so we say, “from all eternity” because this is a most appropriate and accurate statement when trying to deal with an eternal being's eternity.

     So from literally forever ago, God alone determined to do anything we see him do. We must remember that he does it all, “by the most wise and holy counsel of his own will, freely and unchangeably…” His works are not capricious or reactionary. It was NOT when Adam fell (Genesis 3:15) that God first devised the cross plan of Calvary. God didn't "react" with the plan of the cross to the Fall. Jesus' plan to come and die on the cross was from "all eternity." Gen 3 is just the first time the plan was cryptically announced as the events unfolded. We know this was God's eternal plan because we see statements of the certainty of Jesus’ death in the mind of God mentioned beforehand, 1 Peter 1:18-20; Ephesians 1:4; Revelation 13:8, et al. His works are according to the most wise counsel of his own genius and wisdom, and they are eternal. God is free to do it. When we speak of freedom we can really only speak of God himself. God does whatever he does, including the condemnation of the wicked, “freely.” He is not compelled to judgment by a higher court or motivated by the opinions of humans. God does not suffer from peer pressures. He is free to act as he sees fit. He does so. “Our God is in heaven; He does whatever He pleases,” Psalm 115:3.

     God decrees, “…all things, whatsoever comes to pass…” This is the hardest lesson to remember at times, but one most clearly articulated in Scripture. Frankly, how dare I not trust God and his perfect will? He has shown a counsel over that of man that is perfect, loving, strong and for an eternal purpose a hundred times yet I have a tendency to doubt him. God has decreed what comes to pass…even in my little life. We should work to cultivate a healthy grasp and trust in this reality. These writers want us to know this. 

     God is in control. To trust in this and develop a view of it that’s biblical is ultimately the greatest assurance we can ever have. If God is such a sovereign then we should pray, read his word, and seek out wise counsel in all our decisions knowing that nothing happens to us without his perfect will being accomplished. Romans 8:28.

Question: how can we know that something is God’s will? Answer: because it happened. Think about it. Think about how assuring that should be to those who are known by him. 

A short video message similar to the subject that may bless you: Click here

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