devotional

16AUG
2015

LBCF 1689 Reflections (Part 34)

 
 
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 Christ faith according to a Baptist flavor. 

 
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Chapter 3, paragraph 1: “…nor is violence offered to the will of the creature…”
 
Adam and Eve sinned of their own free will. These were the last two mere mortals who ever possessed such a thing as a free will. I can prove it with all 1,189 chapters of the Bible, but I’ll reflect on just three verses to do so here with you. “Slave” is an antonym of “free-man” like dark is an antonym of light. Agreed? Slaves ain’t free, at least in some respects, for sure; they’re slaves. Here’s a recipe to start understanding we’ve no free will from birth: add SIN overarching all the unsaved + our born natures as the unsaved + grace to = a gospel that necessitates we understand how free grace really is of God to give to us. We have to add grace to our understanding of Jesus’ message to grasp the forgiveness that he bought specifically for his elect or else we will soon run into a huge contradiction in calling ourselves “free” while we still sin daily. Biblically, just add John 8:34 and Romans 3:23 (thus demanding an understanding of the then-needed doctrinal defining of grace some call simul justus et peccator (simultaneously righteous and sinner via John 8:36) and we can be sure that none are truly free in their wills at all from their first birth, but yet still apprehend that freedom in Christ (being born again) is a very real thing. Mouthful? We must literally be born again! Here it goes: match “Most assuredly, I say to you, whoever commits sin is a slave of sin” with “all have sinned and come short of the glory of God” and then add “…if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.” There it is, freedom in Christ shown over freed sinners. Jesus’ freedom is real even over sinners like me today who have been legitimately freed by him from it. It’s not that I’m not free to sin, that doesn’t reflect the real me anymore. Now I’m actually free to be righteous. That’s the freedom we need Jesus to have. I’m now a slave of another sort, Romans 6:15-16; 1 Corinthians 7:22-23, etc. John 8:36 is the illumined answer to the predicament of John 8:34. A person’s relationship to sin is not the same pre and post regeneration. Sin does not reign over justified sinners; it reigns over the unjustified sinner. We are not yet totally free from sin’s temptations, temporal consequences at times, or power, but we are presently absolutely free from its eternal penalty! We wait for a full deliverance from it entirely. Oh, for heaven we wait! What a glorious city it will be in which there is no sin! He has gone and prepared that place, John 14:2. It’s living in the light of all of this makes us hate our sin, Romans 7. A “hater of sin” is now as much a defining or distinguishing title of a Christian as one who “loves God.” We’ll talk more on all this as we go through this blessed confession. John 8:34 is all the unsaved; vs. 36 is the promise to all the saved. 
     All this talk on will above is simply so that we would stop equating the freedom Adam and Eve had before sin with any pretended definitions of our own. We are not born from our parents like they were created! Image of God- yes; sinless and free- no, cf. Psalm 51:5 & Ephesians 2:3. Bottom line: Matthew 20:15.
     Jesus’ will was free his entire life as he was not bound by sin, but he was also no mere mortal. Adam and Eve, as I said, were the last “mere mortals” to possess free wills. 
     What the writers are here saying is that God did not violate the free wills of Adam or Eve “the creatures.” They were free to sin and sin freely they did. The puppeteer analogy is not safe or accurate. Their phraseology is a bit strange in our modern ears I know. Another way of saying what “violence offered to the will” means is “God did not force them.” As I stated before, the fall of Satan into sin is one great mystery I pray God will help me understand better in eternity future. How a perfect being corrupted himself is just not something we’re privy to or likely capable of understanding. How Adam corrupted himself and us all is understandable. They were lied to by the devil, they bought the lie and then willingly rebelled against God by disobeying God’s spoken command to avoid the tree. Adam was not deceived when he, the head, your representative, your greatest grandfather, rebelled against your God, 1 Timothy 2:14. You’d have done it too. 
     Basically, what this statement in the confession is is another facet of what was said in the previous part of the sentence that God is not the author of sin. Satan really is the author of sin in the sense that he brought it to us all (prick). God scripted it, God ordained it, God set it up even, but he is still not the one who loved it- we were. He did not force mankind to fall though we were created with the ability to fall (mutable). Us and Satan. Our will be done. We are those who love sin. We made it though God conceived it. 
     As we examine in depth the doctrines of God’s sovereignty more and more we begin to understand that he never does violate the will. It’s not, however, how many of my theologically dense contemporaries often muse. What I mean is that some people believe that “God never violating the will” means he will not save us without permission. I think that’s silly. No one asks to be saved. No one is saved unless he changes our wills to stop hating him with all our filthy evil guts. Our wills simply must be overcome and directed heavenward or else we, like Paul, would remain, if empowered by our leaders, murderers of Christians. We must be set free from we.
     Adam and Eve sinned willingly. They lost their freedom in doing so, and so did we. If one player on a team commits a foul then the whole team gets penalized. If you think this unfair at first glance, I understand, but please struggle more with it like we all must with Biblical depth and patience. Please season that struggle with the knowledge that Jesus became a member of our team for a while and because of him, and only because of him, can anyone on the team be saved, 1 Corinthians 15:22. This victory he won covers all those he chose from Adam to the last sheep born. You don’t want fair, trust me, you want mercy! That’s what the gospel is-mercy. Do you love it? Then love on, dear friend!
     God did not force us into our current state. We high-jacked the plane. We’re crashing it. He, for no compelling reasons in us, is redeeming an innumerable company of us nonetheless. He is handing out parachutes. Put one on. This plane has been going down for a few thousand years. 
 

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