devotional

06SEP
2015

LBCF 1689 Reflections (Part 37)

 

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 which is according to a Baptist flavor. 

 

 

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Chapter 3, paragraph 3a: “By the decree of God, for the manifestation of his glory, some men and angels are predestinated, or foreordained to eternal life through Jesus Christ, to the praise of his glorious grace…”

 

Perhaps the greatest thing taken for granted among my people today is the favor or friendship of God. We don’t have it by nature, but we think we do. Because our sin is a section 101 of The Gospel of Jesus Christ, the gospel often first confronts us as the most offensive message ever uttered. It got Jesus killed even in his day, and if it were possible they’d kill me today for it too. Amen. The gospel incenses people because Jesus taught and teaches that God is not happy with them. God is holy (other) and we are a wholly too- wholly rotten. He is good and we are not; that is the problem. People will go from zero to dragon in no time the moment God’s word comes into conflict with theirs. Shame on us.  

     A Buddhist (previously fake Christian) man this week mocked the gospel presenting the foolishness (see 1 Corinthians 1:18), in his opinion, of a religion that would take a mass murderer to hell upon a sincere deathbed conversion and condemn a “good” atheist doctor to hell if he never repents. It offends people when God says that his forgiveness is not deserved, and that he can give it to whomever he wants whenever he wants. God taught a lot of lessons while he was on earth. In one of them (Matthew 20:1-16) he likened those who’ll be in heaven one day to a man who owned a vineyard and hired day laborers to work in it at three separate points throughout the day. All of the hirelings were given the wage that they had agreed upon at the end of the day. (cf. Luke 17:10). They were angry because the laborers hired toward the end of the day received as much as those hired at the start of the day, before it got hot. The bottom line of the parable is that God (the vineyard owner) can give his grace (the wages) to whomever he hires, however he chooses. He owes no explanation to anyone for what he does legally with his money on his grounds. He wronged no one. Each person got what they had previously agreed upon. Self-righteous people always hate the idea that grace does not belong to them just by virtue of their being, and the people in Jesus’ day were just like us. The idea that we must trust someone else entirely for our salvation is repulsive to the natural man. This prideful nature dies through a slow and painful death in grace. “…God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble,” James 4:6. Men feel arrogantly self-assured that, “If there is a God up there, and if he knows the real me, then I must be loved immeasurably.” The problem for them may be that it may be too late before they see that there is a God, that he does know them deep down inside, and that that’s exactly why they’re not worthy of friendship with God. The gospel exposes this in us in a lot of ways. The law, and even the grace of God, are mirrors to our soul. That “good” atheist doctor might be nice on a Monday, but tell him he must repent on Tuesday. Tell him that he is not a good person and that God is not his friend. He will tear you to pieces for your words, no matter how nice you present them. The more light he's given, the more he'll demonstrate his darkness. The gospel is always offensive. 

     In Romans 9 Paul likens God’s New Testament salvation apocalypse in the world to a potter taking a couple chunks of clay out of a larger chunk of clay to make different types of vessels. A main point I can extrapolate to facilitate a solid interaction with the confession’s point here is that all types of vessels here in this analogy come from the same larger chunk of clay. What’s the larger lump here? Mankind. All Jews and all Gentiles come from the same lump of humanity. We’re all born of Adam. Of course, both groups are comprised only of individuals. All the vessels of God’s work come from the same fallen, unworthy, sinful lump of flesh. God does not owe anyone, or any nation, salvation. “Out of it,” the chunk, he separates a section for whatever he chooses. Who dares accuse him of wrong? It’s his grace and his field, and none of us can “hire himself.”

     It is God’s desire to show mercy on a host of angels and people larger than we can number. He knows the precise number, but we can’t. He does it all by his decree.

     No one in heaven will have anything less than a reckless abandon of self-righteousness. Men will know and love the free grace of God in a manner as pure as the rivers that flow there. In short, they’ll all be Reformed Baptists. Kidding! Sort of. God will be eternally glorified for his free grace. He will have hired some of us at the start of the day, some of us around lunch, and others of us near the close of the duty day, but we’ll all share one thing in common- that he came to us and hired us.

     Lastly I’ll briefly comment on the statement here that’s like so many we often just breeze over in the Bible, “…through Jesus Christ.” Everything salvific is through him. I don’t know what God’s been up to for eternity. I don’t know what he may be doing in other universes today. What I do know is that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is the joyous centerpiece of this world. The greatest sin is not being willingly in on that with all of one’s heart, mind and strength.

     The sun has not yet set on the day of man, and the vineyard owner is still hiring. His wages are eternal wages, and they are so very good. I pray that you would respond to his invitation if he calls you.

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