devotional

31AUG
2015

LBCF 1689 Reflections (Part 36)

 

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 2: “Although God knoweth whatsoever may or can come to pass, upon all supposed conditions, yet hath he not decreed anything, because he foresaw it as future, or as that which would come to pass upon such conditions.”

 

Deuteronomy 18:20, 22: “But the prophet who presumes to speak a word in My name, which I have not commanded him to speak, or who speaks in the name of other gods, that prophet shall die.” “When a prophet speaks in the name of the Lord, if the thing does not happen or come to pass, that is the thing which the Lord has not spoken; the prophet has spoken it presumptuously; you shall not be afraid of him.” We as modern people love to assume we’re in control. We often learn to pray best when that illusion is challenged. No one can deny that Hollywood today is the expression of our culture. A few big movies come to mind that all love to toy with the idea of time travel, and how we can alter reality through our actions. Back to the Future was a pretty big hit in its day I’d say. It was all about how Marty’s actions in his past changed the future for all those he knew. In the first Matrix movie, Neo’s reason for not believing in fate was shown when he responds to the fortune teller lady with, “I don’t like the idea that I’m not in control of my own destiny.” The movie Déjà vu with Denzel Washington was pretty big. The scientists figured out how to time travel and this messed with the future drastically. We are fascinated with the idea that we’re in control. It’s kind of fun on TV. Well, while that might work temporarily for those not trapped on this side of the magic curtain during a movie, it is not reality.

     Question: what would happen if God “went on record” through the mouth of one of his prophets and then his word failed? What would that do? If prophets were to die if what they predicted did not come to pass, and God predicted something that did not come to pass because some random contingency altered the future and prevented it, what would that say of God? I’ll tell you what it’d mean, it’d mean God was unreliable. That is just not how it happens.

     Seriously now, we would not be able to see all predictive prophecy when it was given. Some prophetic things are clearer than others, but we need God to see any of them. It is only after things are fulfilled, or when we are explicitly told by a New Testament writer that something means something, that we can clearly see God speaking about things to come to pass in the future before it happens. God says: “…I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like Me, Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient time things that are not yet done…” Isaiah 46:9b-10a. He proved this in remarkable ways. I did a presentation called “A Biblical Reliability Presentation” that talked about this years ago.

     If you aren’t familiar with the Doctrine of Inspiration let me sum it up for you in just a few verses surrounding the topic of Judas Iscariot. Judas was the one who led the Roman soldiers into the Garden of Gethsemane on the night Jesus was arrested and taken to be killed. In case you're wondering, yes, Jesus knew from the very beginning all about Judas, John 6:70, 64. King David prophesied that Judas would betray Jesus roughly 1,000 years before it happened. After it had happened and Judas had dispatched himself Peter said: “Men and brethren, this Scripture had to be fulfilled, which the Holy Spirit spoke before by the mouth of David concerning Judas, who became a guide to those who arrested Jesus,” Acts 1:16. There’s inspiration. It is God the Holy Spirit speaking through David’s chops when David prophetically saw Judas’ betrayal of Jesus. This is how we view the Bible. It is inspired. It’s not David’s reliability that’s on trial therefore in this; it’s God’s. This is exactly the same with every single other Bible syllable. God is a God of his word.

     Judas was prophesied as the one who would betray Jesus well before it happened. Peter knew it as we just saw. Here are some of the verses surrounding the event: “Even my own familiar friend in whom I trusted, who ate my bread, has lifted up his heel against me,” Psalm 41:9. The New Testament writers applied this directly to Judas. Jesus said, “…He who dipped his hand with Me in the dish will betray Me,” Matthew 26:23. Jesus knew the certainty of what God had said through David. “The Son of Man indeed goes just as it is written of Him…” Matthew 26:24a.

     Now here’s my point, and here’s why I think these confessional writers wanted to stress this. This thing with Judas was going to happen. Think of all the contingencies between David’s writing the Psalms and Jesus’ ministry. The times are a thousand years apart. Judas’ family could’ve relocated, Judas could’ve become a musician, died at a young age while surfing, become a godly man, whatever. The “contingencies” are limitless. If this was a time travel scene maybe you’d be tempted to go back and take Judas out. No, this is going to happen, and no no, God does not guess. He is over it all. Things are absolutely fixed. Any contingencies, such as Nineveh’s repentance, are presented as such for the minds of men, but completely known to God. They stressed this too here in this section. Of course, God knows all about the future, but God is not just a predictor.

     If Judas hadn’t betrayed his Lord. If he had, “done the right thing” and not betrayed him, then God would’ve been wrong. We’d of had an addendum in the Bible that said something like, “and all that the Lord promised was indeed fulfilled except that which he spoke through David in the Psalms about Judas because…” God does know all things, but he does not decree on a scale of certainty based on probability. Molinism is not correct. He is no supercomputer dealing with bell curves. He knows all things, but he decrees on something greater. It is his will that comes to pass through all the circumstances. Somehow, he is not dependent on contingencies working out right.

     There is no way that God’s word fails. Ever. This is a great comfort to those who await other promises that they’re yet to see fulfilled. We know that all of God’s promises will most certainly come to pass because everything else God had said should have already come to pass has already come to pass. God is sovereign over all. 

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