devotional

21JUN
2016

LBCF 1689 Reflections (part 63)

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 which is according to a Baptist flavor.

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Chapter 5, Of Divine Providence, paragraph 4: “The almighty power, unsearchable wisdom, and infinite goodness of God, so far manifest themselves in his providence, that his determinate counsel extendeth itself even to the first fall, and all other sinful actions both of angels and men…”

It seems so many today are intent on rescuing God from being God. In my own study of Scripture over the past 15 years I’m becoming more and more convinced of the importance of having a high and proper understanding of God’s absolute sovereignty. If that isn’t the basis for a view of the God of the Bible then I don’t know what can replace it. For me it seems simple. If God was not fully aware of the world as it is today before it fell, if this was not all his plan A, if he was carelessly just sort of “hoping against hope” that things would go well when he created Adam, then he wouldn’t be God! In short, I don’t prefer a loving but careless God to a sovereign one. (Note: not that my preferences make one single thing true or not). God didn’t want 1,000 or 1,000,000,000 years to make this universe. He waited forever. I have to believe it wasn’t a “spur of the moment” thing. The Father didn’t get drunk one night and make this world out of a bet with the Holy Spirit. What I’m certain of is that God knew full well what he was doing from before he created the matter that matters to us. He saw it all. Any theology that doesn’t bring that into sharp focus in our minds is an idolatrous one trying foolishly to rescue God from being God.

To imagine that God was anywhere other than the Garden of Eden while the devil entered it is unconscionable. God didn’t “learn of Adam’s fall” from a heavy-breathing angel. God ordained the Fall of Adam and Eve. He ordained it. Some prefer the word “allow” to “ordain”. I prefer “ordain”. I prefer ordain because with a God like this the word “permit” is just too shortsighted most times for me. He only does what pleases him. In some sense this includes sending men to hell. If that didn’t please him he wouldn’t do it. This does bring certain Scriptural texts about God’s non-delight in the death of the wicked into needed consideration, but when we take that truth full scope and consider it in light of an eternal God’s eternal plan from before the foundation of the world in making this world we simply cannot in my opinion leave out the fact that God considered all of the lost in an eternal hell and decided to move forward still! If the idea didn’t bring him pleasure he wouldn’t have done any of it! It is in light of this certainty that everything, even that which brings him no pleasure (like the death of a wicked person) was 100% ordained by the God who is pleased to do it. God ordained the Fall of Satan. It (the fall(s) of Satan and Adam) is all done in a way that the desires of the creatures are the instrumental cause of it, but God ordained it all. This is, in the amazing economy of providence, not to say that he “forced it”. That simply does not bring to bear everything the Bible says about the hows and whys of our nature. The confession makes clear, even soon, that God is not the approver of that which Satan and Adam did. Wrestle away, but remember that an eternal and dreadfully sovereign God is watching your wrestling.

Here in the confession we see these writers affirming that God’s counsel is not inapplicable to the Fall of Adam or even Satan. It is unsearchable the depth of God’s ways. Yes. But it tastes good to the Christian. We all deserve death. That is our lot from Adam. God made the difference for so many. God was pleased to ordain it so. “Whatever the Lord pleases He does, in heaven and in earth, in the seas and in all deep places”. – King David. Psalm 135:6.

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