LBCF 1689 Reflections (part 78)

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.




Chapter 7, part 2b: “requiring of them faith in him, that they may be saved; and promising to give unto all those that are ordained unto eternal life, his Holy Spirit, to make them willing and able to believe.”


What is “faith”, and where does faith come from? Faith is a living relationship with the Savior, Jesus Christ. It is a volitional, informed, and effective childlike trust in the Cross of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sin that becomes evidenced in one’s life by a maturing faith and a repentant humility. Faith expresses itself in accurate propositional truths from the Bible Alone. Where does faith come from? It comes from God. Let’s look at two verses for the answer- first to Ephesians 2:8: “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God.” So, we can deduce syntactically here that “grace” “salvation” and “faith” are each and all “the gift of God.” Furthermore, that they are all things “not of [us] yourselves”. So, we know that we must exhibit faith (as a summary of our response(s) to God) if we’re saved. In a parallel verse to Ephesians 2:8 God says, 2) “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.” John 1:12-13. Here we again see that faith is active in men, but that such men were born sovereignly of the will of God alone. Their will had zip, zero, nothing, nada to do with their birth in Christ. The first part of John 1:12 shows that men “received [Jesus]”, but then clearly in vs. 13 declares that their receipt of him was exclusively of the will of God alone. God says they were not born “…of the will of man, but of God.” So, since Scripture is its own best interpreter, we must conclude based upon these two cogent passages, that the faith we exercise is one we entirely received from God alone. This is monergism.

God promises eternal life to those in Christ. Oh, how trustworthy are his promises! How sure are his words! God’s promises never fail. He has chosen his bride. “Now when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad and glorified the word of the Lord. And as many as had been appointed to eternal life believed.” Acts 13:48. The overarchingly clear synthesis of the biblical text attest to Jesus’ limited atonement and is precisely why he said, “the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” Matthew 20:28. Not all, many. Those “ordained unto eternal life”, according to the confession, will be saved. God cannot fail. Not in you, and not worldwide.

Receiving Jesus is a synonymous term for receiving the Holy Spirit. In actuality, you cannot receive Jesus except by receiving the Holy Spirit. This is a behind-the-scenes kind of truth. What I mean is that someone only receives the Holy Spirit by receiving Jesus, but it’s the Holy Spirit alone who causes someone to be able to receive Jesus. See again Ephesians 2:8-9 and John 1:12-13. It may sound like a double-talk, but it’s God the Holy Spirit who resurrects a human heart by the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Because the will of man is fallen it is entirely and unrelentingly unwilling to believe. For eternity in hell the souls of many will refuse to believe. The will of man is trapped inside unbelief and unable to care the slightest bit about Jesus. To the regenerate, only the true Jesus will do. How is this possible? Answer: God’s grace toward his elect. St. Paul/Saul is the quintessential example. In Acts 9, an un-willing persecutor became an invincible Apostle. He was changed by his Savior. He was most unwilling until, by being given sight of Christ by the Holy Spirit, he was “made willing”. Saul’s will was literally freed to believe when he was shown the Resurrected Jesus. His will was freed from its slavery to sin to trust in Jesus. Paul is the principle example of a salvation fully given by God.

In truth, we all are exactly like him. We were unwilling until God came to us and gave us the faith that he himself required of us. We simply return to him what is always his. Love.

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